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Employment, Technology and Society

“Worthiness of employment (job) and work (Que gagne-t-on en travaillant)?” was one of the philosophy questions in France’s Baccalaureate (high school diploma) exam.

Some people enjoy working but dislike their job. Working is not synonymous with employment (job). Work is any endeavour involving the use of effort to achieve a goal, such as to repaint the house or to earn money. A work may not be a job but a job requires working.

Job, e.g. teaching or plumbing, is specific referring to a particular activity or employment. Repainting your house during your free time is work but not your job (employment), which can give you satisfaction and joy. However, work can sometimes also be un-enjoyable that’s why we often describe it as the opposite of play, e.g. cleaning toilets at home.

Politicians have been elected into, as well as thrown out, of office due to their views and policies on employment and jobs.

Back to the French philosophy question: what do you gain by working? by having a job? I hope that our French high school graduating students, after 4 hours of writing on this subject under the watchful eyes of Education Departmental staff and detectors, acquired a more positive attitude and behavior towards work and jobs in the midst of a bleak economic reality. What happened to our ‘Right to Work’ philosophy, “Just Wage for Fair Work” ethics and socially-responsible business model?

Back to the French philosophy question again: Why should young adults work for the retirement of the very people who spoiled the global economy? Why work when governments take some of your earnings in the form of fines and taxes (e.g. French Government has imposed a tax of 75% to those who have an annual income of more than 1M Euros)? We need governments to ensure public services (hospitals, schools, security, etc) and stability but… is it possible not to borrow money externally to pay for these? Are these borrowings wisely spent? Should governments bail out banks and ailing companies to avoid making individuals unemployed?

IT and Computer Literacy
A few weeks ago, while researching for information on technological jargon for my intermediate class, I fell into a test on computer knowledge. I sometimes get into this spur-of-the-moment kind of thing and forget it in a blink. That test, however, turned out to be more than just an extemporaneous ego exercise. The result indicated that I only have average knowledge of computers (I’m being generous with myself as the average score on that day was 7.3/10 while I got only 7). For someone who has a website and blog regularly, has self-published a book and is active online, I thought I would be above average. I may not be a power user of new and advanced technology, but I’m certainly a computer literate.

Computer literacy (CL) refers to the ability to use computer applications rather than programs. How literate do we need in order to succeed professionally and make the most of life?

Australian public and private schools have computer science as a subject. For instance, the New South Wales public schools’ Year 6 students (their average age is 12 years) are taught and expected to have the following computer skills: Using computer-based technologies to manipulate, create, store and retrieve information to express ideas and communicate with others (Word Processing, Graphics and Multi-media); Using computer-based technologies to locate, access, evaluate, store and retrieve information (Spreadsheets and Databases) and to express ideas and communicate with others (Internet and Email); Downloading copy of document; Identifying hardware components,such as keyboard, mouse and screen (http://www.schools.nsw.edu.au/learning/k-6assessments/csa6ictskills.php).

Not long ago, I read a report saying that in the USA as much as 60% of schools issue laptops or tablets to their students.

There was no computer science or information technology subject in my high school days (and we didn’t have electronic gadgets at home). To date, there are still children in developing and developed countries who don’t have the privilege of being taught this subject at school. Unlike in developing nations (due to lack of or inadequate funding), however, having computer subjects and labs in schools is a choice in developed countries.

In the French public education system, the absence of computer in the majority of classrooms is more cultural than monetary. The pedagogy is still traditionally based on memorisation, writing (with its famous regular dictée and use of handwriting analysis for employment purposes) and centralised curriculum.

According to the Guardian, the London Acorn School bans its pupils from using smartphones and computers and watching TV at all times, including during holidays. Children of this school “are not allowed television at all before the age of 12, after that they are allowed documentaries that have previously vetted by parents. They cannot watch films until they are 14; the internet is banned completely for everyone under 16 at home and at school – and computers are only to be used as part of the school curriculum for over 14s” (https://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/sep/29/the-no-tech-school-where-screens-are-off-limits-even-at-home).

The Guardian quoted the finding of a global study by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) that investing heavily in computers and new technology in the classroom did not improve pupils’ performance, and frequent use of computers is associated with lower results. As well, there have been concerns about the disruptive effect of the use of mobile phones and iPads in the classroom and the potential negative impact of social media on young people.
On the other hand, we’ve heard a lot about how technology and the use of computer have broadened minds, have enhanced teachers’ skills, strategies and knowledge, and are more fun and interesting for students.

I believe that, in our current society, we need to be computer literate to be able to accomplish specific tasks; simplify (but not complicate) life; save (but not waste) time; improve communication and interpersonal skills (but not limit or jeopardise these); and encourage creativity (but not illegality).

Accordingly, my mediocrity in computers and information technology is not a handicapped but an opportunity as I don’t fully depend on it for my personal, social and professional satisfaction and happiness.

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