Mailing A Letter Is An Irrelevant “Skill,” Programming Is The New Literacy
A writer on ReadWriteWeb published a post this week lamenting the fact that his teenage son doesn’t know how to mail a letter. In his post, the writer also “blamed technology” for this.
The whole post is worth a read, but the intro says it all:
I’m not sure who to blame. His mother, perhaps, or the public school system. But it turns out that my son—days away from graduating from high school—does not know how to send mail through the U.S. Postal Service.
I am not making this up.
The boy has a smartphone, a tablet and a laptop, does some basic coding, is pretty good at computer-assisted design and gets excellent grades. He can bang out what appears to be 60 words per minute using only his thumbs. But a letter? Forget about it—he doesn’t even know how to properly address an envelope.
Our only possible reaction:
Indeed, written letters are another living artifact. This is not a “skill” (if you could even call it that) that matters in a world where programming is the new literacy. As an adult, I have not mailed a single letter or even paid a bill by mail (I’ve setup automation to handle my monthly payments). I don’t have cable TV, a landline telephone or even a car either, and my parents “freak out” at these things much the same as this parent is freaking out their child didn’t know how to mail a letter.
But change in society (and people freaking out at it) is basically how the world works. Many of you reading this will be upset that a child didn’t know how to mail a letter. I’ll say it doesn’t matter and is about as relevant as me understanding how to use a telegraph or rotary telephone. It might be interesting to some as quaint nostalgia for the past, but it’s not practical, useful or even required in today’s society. Especially if you are going to live a digital-first lifestyle.
Anyway, it’s not like this is a difficult thing to search on and find the answer. We shouldn’t even be wasting time teaching this at all in schools: teachers should be helping students become digital-literate instead of spending time on the systems of yesteryear which actually make more sense in history books.