What is digital literacy?
To put it simply
Curiosity + Education = Innovation
Digital literacy is a new form of education for the 21st century, much like Montessori changed the very basis of education of the 20th century. We seek to change the way our children and young people grow and learn, ready to become the leaders of a new digital world.
Humans, like all intelligent animals, are inherently curious. From the moment of our birth, we desire knowledge. We all crave information, we are born as essentially a brain. Even if that brain is neurodivergent, or disabled we still thirst for growth. Humans are born with no way to escape from predators without our parents. We even experience the most traumatic births in the animal kingdom for one sole reason. Giant brains, nature's most powerful sponges for information. Nature’s computer.
For the first time, mankind has at its fingertips all of human knowledge.
And what we don’t know,
we have the means to
discuss, discourse, and discover.
This has meant a fundamental shift
not only in the way we access knowledge,
but in our well being.
Every morning we wake to another story of a bullied child, or another young adult who has taken their own life. Most alarming of all, younger and younger children are engaging in more and more serious forms of self harm.
The reason is simple:
sponges, like brains, absorb everything.
The good and the bad.
Our brains were made to absorb knowledge.
And as every parent knows, toddlers have no sense of danger.
Children are not born with the capacity to manage vast amounts of information as true or false, helpful or harmful, safe or dangerous.
We learn these skills in two ways through
dangerous self experience
or safe and trusted
Just like early computers, the human brain has no antivirus, no firewall, no safe search, and no VPN. We are inherently vulnerable.
This sounds scary, and it sounds difficult, but the answer is simple.
Great Britain needs to teach children how
to safely access and manage information
and when to step away.
If we wish to stay relevant, and reach the pinnacle of the educational powerhouse that is the UK, we need to do what we do best, innovate, not regurgitate.
We don’t need more maths lessons, we need to teach children HOW to access maths. Because not all brains can. Just as not all brains can access language. We now have computers and the internet, the greatest of all British innovations, to do that for us.
It’s interesting to consider that computers go hand in hand with neurodivergence. Computers were invented by a great pedigree of British neurodivergent outcasts.
Alexander Graham Bell,
and ultimately TimBL.
All of these great minds are British,
and would be considered ‘unwell’
in the terms of the day.
They were brains driven to answer bigger questions than most, more absorbent sponges, faster processing natural computers.
Autism is a spectrum for one reason, intelligence is a spectrum. 'Mental illness' can actually be a sign of brilliance.
Be the geniuses socially infantile like Babbage, gay and standoffish like Turing, bipolar and brilliant like Lovelace, dyslexic like Graham Bell, or facially blind like Tim BL, these conditions go hand in hand. (Cavendish) (Carver) (Popova) (Blake) (Wright)
Great minds are never balanced minds.
Those most brilliant always struggle
to access the most basic of information.
A Cambridge study said that ⅓ of children found that they flourished in lockdown. They weren’t bullied, they cemented family bonds, spent more time of doors, and explored their inherent passions without recourse. We as a nation need to foster this growth. Let divergents emerge as the beautiful enigma they are.
By investing in
healthy digital literacy,
We can do that.
Teachers do their best, not when told by their governments to reach standardised testing targets, but by fostering curiosity and innovation.
Great Britain does this naturally. Look at the incredible benefits of investing in early years education and support. The early mind is the fastest processor. This is scientific fact. The foundations of language, relationships, and learning are all discovered at this age. And most importantly the boundary of safe behaviour is also forged at this tender age.
If we were to allow these same tenants to inform the growing digital child, we would see a massive decrease in depression, self harm, and suicide.
Why do I know this? Because at the age of 7 I was there. I dealt with severe depression and ADHD as a child. I was also selected as a gifted and talented student. What they refer to as ‘2E’ or twice exceptional. Struggles at home made things worse. That continued into my teens where I had to be sectioned and take a year off. Being a computer nerd, I had been sucked into digital addiction early. I would easily spend days, sometimes up to four, completely without sleep, incessantly gaming or scrolling. This lack of sleep and self care is common to the modern young adult.
But all that changed when I discovered neurotherapy. I was able to completely come off of the heavy medication I had used since the age of 7, with the help of Dr. Stephanie Reese Neuroscience PHD. My neural pathways were damaged by years of trauma both external and internally induced. What we now realise were signs of PTSD, ADHD, ASD, and Dyscalculia, conditions that can be managed differently. Unlike in the UK, in America it was completely legal to put very young children on radical drug therapies. I even developed a plasy from medications, tremors that could have become permanent if Dr Reese hadn’t helped me.
Dr Reese is one of the early innovators of a radically new technology called HeG. Hemoencephalography to put it simply measures the levels of blood oxygen in the processing centre of the brain. When you use this technology with a digital interface, like a videogame, you can ‘teach’ a brain how to think positively.
To put it simply,
think happy thoughts,
you can move your car forward.
your car won’t move.
The incredibly malleable adolescent brain will develop new, undamaged neuropathways, completely naturally.
I have now worked inside or around specialist education in three different countries, America, Japan, and now the UK. I have worked for one of the most radically successful alternative provision schools, Red Balloon here in the UK for 10 years. Working with young people like myself. Helping them find the light of mental wellness and helping them excel.
What I need from you is the funding to make more dreams happen, to make more young brains well, to help more broken families come together, and to take my incredibly brilliant neurodivergent students to new heights.
We want to bring HEG therapy to the UK.
Hope House Hazells and the UK have a lot in common. We are the world’s smallest think tank, and the UK is the world’s largest. I don’t need my British history degree to tell you that for all of human history, the UK has been the world leader in innovation and education. Look at the modern success of Singapore’s education system. (oecd.org) Singapore, one of the early points of Britishness in the far east has become a bastion of cutting edge pedagogy. They are one of the few education systems that won’t flounder under the age of AI education. (Cavendish)
If you let good educators do what they do best. Naturally, fostering curiosity, guiding learners with the experience for the safe use of technology, you will breed innovation. That is the essence of Digital literacy.
The most important lesson is when to step away from the phone, take a walk from your computer, and experience nature, animals, and foster tangible relationships with others. Let's teach wellbeing and healthy habits in our day to day life. Let's redefine education. Let's foster that curiosity. Let's build a better Britain using the strengths of our neurodivergence.
I might be dyscalculic but even I can see the beauty of this simple equation.
Curiosity + Education = Innovation
Blake, S. (n.d.). Alexander Graham Bell Dyslexia - Dyslexic Puzzles, ADHD Fonts and Dyslexia Glasses. ADHD & Improve Dyslexia Letter Rotations. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.improvedyslexia.com/alexander-graham-bell-dyslexia-inventor-examples-of-reading/
Carver, J. (n.d.). Autism: The Enigma That Amazingly Saved 14 Million Lives. Autism Parenting Magazine. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.autismparentingmagazine.com/autism-enigma-amazingly-saved-lives/
Cavendish, C. (2023, January 20). ChatGPT will force school exams out of the dark ages. Financial Times. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.ft.com/content/41243091-d8d7-4b74-9ad1-5341c16c869f
Fitzgerald, M. (2014, February 24). Genius, Creativity and Savantism. Professor Michael Fitzgerald. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from http://professormichaelfitzgerald.eu/genius-creativity-and-savantism/
oecd.org. (2016, December 6). Singapore tops latest OECD PISA global education survey. OECD. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.oecd.org/education/singapore-tops-latest-oecd-pisa-global-education-survey.htm
Popova, M. (2022, August 31). Loneliness and the Trinity of Creativity: Ada Lovelace, the Poles of the Mind, and the Source of Her Imaginative Powers. The Marginalian. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.themarginalian.org/2022/08/31/ada-lovelace-trinity/
Wright, R. (2012, August 8). Why the Man Who Invented the Web Isn't Rich. The Atlantic. Retrieved January 27, 2023, from https://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/08/why-the-man-who-invented-the-web-isnt-rich/260848/