When developing the the Austin Children’s Museum, the architects may not have had Dr. Harry Wachs in mind; they did however, inadvertently pay homage to a man that has contributed greatly to Behavioral Optometry’s understanding of child development.   The problem solving challenges available to children in the museum push the logical mind to a new atmosphere, expand the base of their linear thoughts, and stretch the imagination to new dimensions.  Kudos Austin, on a job well done.

The museum also presented challenges to the “big kids” , one of which really got me thinking.  They asked:

If  you were asked  to name the greatest thinkers of your generation, and generations past, who would you list?

I could come up with many answers, some of which you may agree with, and some not.  Socrates? Plato? Newton? Perhaps you’d choose names with a more modern theme – Edison? Churchill?  Gandhi? Hawking? Not hard to construct an argument for any of these names, and several others that I haven’t mentioned.

They were thinkers and problem solvers.

How many light bulbs do you think Thomas Edison manufactured before he discovered the one that glowed? How many mathematical equations were done and re-done by Socrates, then Plato, and finally Aristotle before they became proofs? How many “mind bending”, defy logic, every cell in my brain hurts thoughts did Stephen Hawking experience before he embraced quantum gravity? I couldn’t even venture a guess.

They were thinkers. They were problem solvers.

Fast forward 100 years from now when someone asks your great, great grandchildren’s children to name the greatest thinkers of their generation.  Sadly, the answer may be related to who types the fastest. Here’s why.

With the evolution of technology, the need for logical and linear thought seems to be vanishing.  Long gone are the days of encouraging kids to think through problems, the days of “go back the way you came and you’ll never get lost”, the days of taking apart your favorite toy and putting it back together on your own, or my favorite as a kid, taking apart my sister’s toys and then deliberately putting them back together incorrectly.  Our need to think, and problem solve at times can be taken over by devices that provide the answer, and often times, without showing how.  And the kids are suffering for it.

A few examples:

Most people don’t get lost these days because we seemingly are all equipped with GPS, so why bother pay attention to the number of turns we take in hopes of finding our way home?  If you take something apart and can’t figure out how to put it back together, it’s on YouTube. Latest weight loss phenomenon? WebMD.  Forget which President crossed the Potomac? Wikipedia. Need to know how to ask a girl on a date?  Google. We have become so dependent on these devices, apps, and websites to help us think that tomorrow’s children may be missing out on the nuts and bolts of solving a problem themselves.  The internet does it for them.

Even as adults, we use these devices to remind us of commitments, entertain during the down times and ensure we don’t get lost.  We cut our problem solving demand in half simply by charging our device.  Think I am exaggerating? Leave your smart phone home all week and try to survive.

I dare you 🙂


Posted on March 18, 2013, in From My Perspective.... Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Robert – great write up. And so true! jackie cencer


  2. Terrific Robert! The days of actual thinking and remembering are rapidly dwindling!!!! Students now want to study the “right anwers” without giving thought to the concept or process and/or it’s broader implications. We need to reinforce the idea of thinking, reading, conceptualizing, and learning. Thanks for your thoughts. Diana


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