December 27, 2012
Wind-Up Radio Inventor Warns Google Generation Is Growing ‘Brain Dead’
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
The English inventor who created the wind-up radio has no problems telling us how he feels about kids today. In his mind, the “Google Generation” as he calls them are in danger of becoming engorged, brain-dead zombies incapable of existing without the aid of a computer.Trevor Baylis, a 75-year old Englishman, expressed his opinion in a way only an Englishman can: Politely. Baylis invented his wind-up radio in the 90s as an educational tool to help stop the spread of AIDS in Africa.
In a recent interview with the Daily Mail, Baylis spoke about the differences between his generation and the generation of today, saying young people today simply aren´t as inclined to invent things with their hands. And if Baylis had his way, he´d bring practical toys, such as Tinker Toys or Meccano back into the classrooms to teach kids in a hands-on kind of way.
“They should use computers as and when, but there are so many people playing with their computers nowadays that spend all their time sitting there with a stomach,” said Baylis in his interview with the Daily Mail.
“They are dependent on Google searches. A lot of kids will become fairly brain-dead if they become so dependent on the internet, because they will not be able to do things the old-fashioned way.”
Baylis then went on to recall his days as a boy during the war, saying he began inventing things when he was 5 or 6 years old.
“One day I was out and went to this house around the corner from where I grew up in Southall, Middlesex, and this lady said, ℠I've got a box of stuff for you Trev, you'd better get a wheelbarrow.´ So I picked up this thing and on the way back I was intrigued and I looked inside and it turned out to be a huge Meccano set,” said Baylis.
The 1997 OBE award winner then went on to recall all the many things he was able to build with that Meccano set, such as 5-wheeled motor cars or trucks. And it´s this kind of invention, this kind of hands-on creativity, that Baylis says has been lost with today´s Google Generation.
“If you brought Meccano back into primary or secondary schools then you'd have class one against class two — you've got four hours to make the Sydney Harbour Bridge and we'll see which one is the strongest.”
Though it may seem typical for an elderly gentleman such as Baylis to grow nostalgic for the values and principles of his youth, the call to bring back hands-on interaction isn´t an unusual one. The makers of Raspberry Pi have been pushing for the same thing, hoping their tiny, credit-card sized computer would bring back the early days of computer engineering. These developers aim to put Raspberry Pis in as many schools as possible to teach students how to build their own platforms rather than create on top of existing platforms.
While Baylis may not see Raspberry Pi as the best way to bring invention back to the classroom, it´s a step in the right direction.