Is that an apple?
I was in a meeting recently, and one of the principals in the meeting was making some points about lack of education here in U.S. He made a point of discussing how in a school in West Virginia, a famous TV personality did a test. He held up a potato and none of the students knew what it was. He held up a French fry and everyone knew. He repeated the test with an apple. Apparently not a single person could say what it was.
In 2012 is this even possible what with Internet broadband penetration in over 95 percent of the U.S., and over 50 percent of our population owning a smart phone? Well, according to the test this famous person did, yes.
How can that be you ask? America is one of the wealthiest, smartest and innovative countries in the World. Yet we face critical Digital Divide issues that in fact replicate the experiences found in so many developing countries. I have written many times and spoken often about the new Digital Divide and some of the consequences it brings, in jobs, recruiting, healthcare, education and other areas. Clearly we have a digital divide, between those with the income to own a smart phone and pay for the data charges, and those who have dumb phones or none at all. There is a digital divide between rich and poor, between urban and rural and indeed between citizens and their elected officials (though that one is closing pretty fast.)
But does the digital divide provide an answer for school kids in West Virginia not knowing what a potato or an apple is? I do not think so. At what point did we cross some line from basic common sense and families teaching their kids the absolute basics of life to kids not knowing what an apple is but they do know what a French fry is? This is not about digital divide issues or the politics and economics around it.
This is about getting back to basics. America collectively has forgotten what common sense is. We have forgotten the responsibility we all have for teaching and helping each other with the very basics. Just look at how complex our political and financial issues are. You have to ask; how far does lack of common sense, and lack of sticking to the basics become the reason for such poor performances?
It is time to put aside the vicious political bickering, grandstanding and ego-driven culture wars and focus on the basics. If our children can't tell you what a potato or an apple is -- how are they going to determine the future of quantum computing or nanotechnology as it applies to healthcare? More importantly and to the point, our country is not falling behind other countries in education and surrounding success.
No actually, we already fell and fell hard. Now it is time to get back to basics and use the basics to create the foundations for a stronger future; and for our children to succeed on their own and collectively to lead our country.