Letting Students Become Teachers

There’s an obvious shift in the way humans are learning. Now, not only is every person with access to internet connectivity able to learn most skills their heart desires, but the student has become the teacher in most cases.
You’re probably asking, “Jo, since when did you become Mr. Miyagi?” Since I sat on a plane next to a couple and a conversation with strangers sparked my mind in some big, philosophical way, because that happens when you speak to people on planes.

(I’m soooo excited about turbulence.)

Like most flights I take, this one from Dallas (DFW) to Los Angeles (LAX) was nice and turbulent. While I looked super relaxed with my notebook, headphones, and water bottle, I was basically peeing my pants every time the plane shook – fake it till you make it right? Once all of my “calm down Jo” tactics wore off, I decided to pull the trick that never fails; interviewing the stranger, or in this case strangers who sat next to me.

They were an adorable married couple, let’s call them Joanie and Chuck, who moved from California to Austin, Texas to raise their 13-year-old daughter. Beyond bonding over how cool we all thought Austin was, we started dabbling into various topics, like why Hollywood isn’t a good place to raise a child, the celebrity complex where young kids instantly set themselves up to fail if they idolize someone who they don’t feel they’ll ever assimilate, and then we got to a topic that I’ve always been interested in; how their daughter learns everything from the internet, and then teaches her parents’ things she’s learned.
Joanie turned to me and admitted asking her daughter to do her makeup before she goes out on weekends. Her teenager carefully contours her mother’s face; a skill once only makeup artists knew, but thanks to YouTube, everyone can learn and become a makeup wizard themselves.
Let’s go back before social media; Joanie would’ve been responsible for teaching her daughter everything she needed to know that wasn’t taught in the classroom. Often times, leaving gaps because a person is only human and can’t guess everything her child is thinking, or what she might’ve needed to learn. Now, Joanie’s daughter is taught independence from the moment she can grasp a phone with her own two hands.
As I write this the only thing that I keep envisioning is an iBaby revolution, where babies are instantly born with iPads in their hands. It’s scary, disgusting, and brilliant all at the same time.
Then I looked into my own life, and reflected on my weekend in Dallas with family from both the US, and Brazil. It was so funny to see a room filled with people, who due to lack of a common language couldn’t actually speak to one another unless the two youngest people were there to translate; my older cousin, and me. It’s not that the older generation is dumber, or lazier, they just grew up in a different era than we did. They didn’t get the privilege that I did to learn English in school, but still have a window into my native culture. They’re now learning how to search for answers on the internet, when we’ve been mastering this skill for easily over 10 years now. They’re behind on a lot of things and that’s exactly why you’ll find yourself playing the tech department at family functions, helping your great Aunt Bertha learn how to shorten video clips to post on Facebook.

(let’s be real, all of our bags look like this) 

The fact is, that there’s a young generation of kids out there who not only have unlimited intellect at the touch of a screen (cause who needs buttons anymore? this is freakin’ 2016!), but who also grew up multi-cultured and are essential in the communication and success of not only their families, but of their people. These are kids who grew up inside an immigrant home, who had the internet, and their roots. These are the same kids who are embarrassed of their parents who have housekeeping jobs, when they should be embracing their advantage of knowledge and culture, and empower themselves to dominate in whatever they want to pursue. They might only see themselves as a “student,” when in actuality, they’re almost professors of the digital and international age.
What most people don’t realize is that we’re at the forefront of a new wave of how people learn; students of “Google University” are the smartest, and brightest of this world. They are a bridge of information, and we need to let the students be the teachers.
We’re at a point where people quite yet don’t understand this power that they have for obtaining knowledge, and because they don’t understand it, it often goes to waste. It’s time we all not only see, but believe in how smart and capable we really are, and start making this place better for ourselves. Shut up and go exercise your ability to learn via free everything online to pass it on.

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