Recently, I was at a training session for my job as a School Crossing Supervisor. Stereotypically Supervisors are over fifty and, at forty seven I am the youngest I know of. So it was an interesting time watching them attempt to learn a new app the council required them to use.
The session was led by a member of the HR team, these days called People Performance. He took it in his stride to explain and answer questions. At the same time the small talk grew as the frustration grew. Change is difficult at most times. Though Technological change for the mature brain is pretty much learning a new language.
There were a few who had skipped ahead and had already been able to install and gain passwords to the system. Meanwhile, others grumped and bemoaned another task that was now on their phones. One was indignant and recalcitrant claiming that she was not doing this at all.
While I waited for my turn to be processed, I checked facebook, as you do. One of the posts was about a family friend who had recently gotten a Cochlear implant. Her husband was excitedly praising the processes that his wife was going through now that the implant was activated.
Cochlear Implants enable a person who is deaf to hear by taking the audio information and plugging it directly into the neural pathways for hearing. Our brains are incredibly flexible and changeable and new pathways are able to be formed at any age. It just takes time.
My friend, who now has the implant has been deaf all her life and her neural pathways are adapting to the new input. Headache, nausea, and dizzy spells are part of the process. Unlike a child’s brain, the mature brain requires more time to build new pathways.
New Ways Through Technology
This brings me back to my fellow School Crossing Supervisors. Technology brings new ways of living. Historically this has been over generations. Archeologists and Historians have charted the development of the city over hundreds of thousands of years.
In contrast to the development of cities, I have seen the rise and fall of multiple technologies. New developments and new products occur yearly. How long can you keep up with them as you get older?
Struggling with the new is one thing, finding yourself unable to understand it is another. I find myself asking “Will I be able to keep up?”. Will there be a new technology that will keep my brain as flexible as it can be? An implant that plugs directly into the brain.
Neuroplasticity And The Mature Mind
The term is Neuroplasticity. The Cochlear implant is an example of the brains ability to adapt to new stimuli. Keeping the mind functioning requires stimuli that occurs during the activities we perform throughout our whole life.
As technology changes, the forms of life change with them. We do not know what the future brings. We know and understand our lives by looking backward to the forms we are familiar with. If the forms change drastically are we not dislocated from them now and into the future?
We spend a lot of time preparing our kids for the world that they are going to live in. This involves more than just schools but all the media and other activities we perform. It also relates directly to the image of the future we promote. A future we do not yet see.
An Age of Miracles
I am quite sure that my friend with the Cochlear implant never thought she would have her brain connected to a device to help her hear. Graeme Clark the inventor of the Cochlear implant did. It opened a future for the deaf to hear. Which, if you know your Scriptures is pretty much a miracle.
A miracle is something out there beyond what you are supposed to expect. Something we can hope for but are in all honesty unable to attain. Technology has enabled the miraculous. Could we then say that the app we had to learn is also a miracle?
Imagine my fellow Supervisor’s response being told the time management app is a miracle? Communication technology is amazing but we are used to it. Now people complain they have to learn more new stuff. It’s one big headache.
Headache, nausea… sounds like they have had a Cochlear implant. Unlike a deaf person being gifted with hearing a time management app is only miraculous to the council trying streamline their payroll system.
Big Future Versus Small Hopes
My fellow Supervisors could never see smart phones and the paperless office as their future. They saw their parents lives and the promises made to them decades ago. While people like Graeme Clark envisioned technology like the Cochlear implant; they just wanted to have a nice home and a reasonable retirement.
Our world has people who hope for big things, living on Mars sized dreams. These dreams are rarely like the Cochlear implant. Futurists talk a big game and science follows the people with power and money.
Grumbling Supervisors do not have big hopes. What hopes they do have are becoming limited. Being a School Crossing Supervisor was that little job to help them out. Technology can make miracles happen. How come we struggle to provide the small hopes, those familiar forms of life?
Phillip Hall has been too long in Melbourne to see AFL in the same light as those back in Fremantle. East Fremantle born and bred, he would love to see the Dockers back in the eight. But would settle for just beating West Coast twice a year.