When Gavin was ill, we took him to see the paediatrician near our house. In the waiting room, they have TV on showing re-runs of Tom and Jerry. As we were watching it, it suddenly occurred to me why children of today are so precocious. They seem to know and be capable of so much more than I ever was at their age.
Why? Just consider some of the resources they are exposed to…
Let’s take the children’s programs on TV as one example. Back in my day, what was I watching? Cartoons like Tom and Jerry. What do you learn from watching cartoons like that? Unrealistic views of the world – that cats can be squashed flat, beaten to a pulp, have all their teeth fall out, etc. but don’t worry, they’ll be okay.
Granted, after a while, they started trying to impart little lessons with a message at the end of the cartoon teaching the moral of story. For instance, in He-Man and She-Ra, they would have the lead character appear at the end of the show recounting the important message that the cartoon was trying to teach children. The greatest irony of it all is the fact that the cartoon is all about how He-Man and She-Ra thrashes the “baddies”. Yep, that’s a really good lesson for life – it’s okay to beat people up if they’re bad people.
What are children today watching? Shows like Little Einsteins. What do they learn? Music, geography, colours, shapes, numbers, and a whole host of other things.
Some time back when I was reading some articles about raising smart kids, it mentioned something along the lines of Chess Masters today being able to attain levels at younger and younger ages and being able to out-perform the Chess Masters of the past. This is because so much more information is available and the resources we have to tap into them so much greater. Children with a potential for chess are exposed to so much more than the children in the past.
I guess this is a similar example to why we are seeing children who can achieve so much more earlier today. The availability of knowledge, awareness and resources that we have today far outstrips anything we ever had in the past.