Is your child creative? Did you get a better or worse grade in creativity than in mathematics? Do you think creativity is important for his future? Have you ever signed him up in a creative activity? Are you planning to do it? And what do you think of him self-esteem? Is he easily frustrated? What do you do to improve that besides talking to him? How do you work it? Are you one of those who thinks that life will teach him with ‘blows’? Social robots are a good tool to help your children, and that makes you better parents. Not by buying him a social robot, but by being proactive in helping him to develop his full potential as a person and professional in the face of an uncertain future. And, yes, creativity matters.
It is Covid19 Age. We have suffered a severe blow at all levels. We are aware that things must change to prevent situations like this in the future. Education is not excluded to this analysis. It also requires adapting to new times. It is something that has already been discussed but that the time has come to address without further delay. And it is not just a change that concerns teachers and schools. It also affects us, the parents, at our homes.
We have seen how, during confinement, the use of digital platforms has undergone a great increase to help children continue with their competence development and to maintain contact with teachers and classmates. This change has been spectacular where it has been fortunate to happen. Unfortunately it is not the general rule. Not all children or schools have been able to incorporate these platforms to solve this need that came our way.
It is curious to see that everyone said that incorporating these platforms into current education system was a matter of years. And where there has been attitude and resources, it has happened in just a few weeks.
It must be recognized that this pandemic has forced those changes. But it is insufficient. Education around the world needs to be rethought. It is crucial that we rethink, not only because of pandemics, but for the future of our children. Science, math, technology, and engineering are critical to their future. All of them are the so-called hard-skills. Informally: the ones that are easy to teach, measure and grade. And they are the ones that digital platforms help to develop mainly.
But as important as those are the so-called soft-skills that are also talked about but much less. We do not listen to anyone concerned about enhancing their child’s creativity, and instead, 80% of people talk about how good or how bad they are at mathematics, for example. And we sign them up in a platform so that they continue to improve it.
Soft-skill set includes skills as relevant as the ability to problem-solving, creativity, curiosity, communication, teamwork, leadership, initiative, etc. Parents also have to “rethink” ourselves and see what is our attitude to the future that awaits our children. We must change the way we see education. Those who have created the technology that surrounds us are mostly the children of visionary parents who gave their children a computer because they believed that computing offered a better future for their children.
Nobody think that these skills are not critical in a future where Artificial Intelligence will be everywhere. Authorities include them as the key skills of the XXI century. Nor that these skills don’t to be worked because come in the DNA of each person. Nor that with improving the grades of the hard-skill subjects we have already fulfilled our mission as parents. We should not think that it is enough to say that my son is very creative because he draws very well. Digital platforms are very good in many aspects, but they do not help to develop most of these soft-skills.
Everyone knows that educational robots bring important benefits when they are used for developing STEM skills. However, they also bring other benefits in the field of soft-skills. Here are a few of them:
1. Facilitates understanding of abstract concepts thanks to work with physical elements. In the field of mathematics and programming, concepts are easier to understand for children if you work with real manipulative elements.
2. Enhances leadership and collaborative spirit. Challenges that robotics presents are usually associated with real and tangible problems, which, as happens in the real world, requires the coordination of teamworks.
3. Improves integration and communication. By working in a team, indirectly encourages an interdisciplinary environment that requires a higher level of interpersonal communication.
Social robots are more than just educational robots. In fact, its nature implies that an affective bond is created between the child and the robot. From a young age, most children are attracted by robotz in a similar way to animal pets. We are also attracted to the stories they star in, from short stories to animated films. Who don’t remember Wall-e…
And, in addition, they bring an additional advantage over more traditional educational robots. They incorporate access to the cutting edge technologies that our children will face in their future work environment. It is not that the robots are going to take away their jobs, but that the people who better ‘understand and collaborate’ with the robots will have a better chance of getting the job. Social robots are the best positioned to understand and learn these technologies because they include them as standard. We are talking about of Artificial Intelligence in its many applications.
In this sense, a robot like Aisoy KiK is a good starting point for beginners as it allows one to enter that world from a entry level and go ahead to more advanced concepts. By the way, in an experiment carried out by the University of Barcelona, children who programmed Aisoy KiK robot showed up to 3 times higher level of creativity than those who used other robots and also those who exclusively used programming platforms such as Scratch.
These are some of the benefits observed in relation to soft-skills:
1. Curiosity. It is beyond doubt that there is one aspect that social robots awakens in everyone: curiosity. And that, no other current device has. Although it is very difficult to quantify.
2. Stimulates creativity. Programming a robot provides certain advantages since you see directly the result of that program in the real world. It facilitates the iterative process of analyzing what has gone wrong and looking for other alternatives, stimulating creativity and problem solving.
3. Self-esteem. Children with an affective bond towards a social robot with which they ‘live’, either to play or to carry out any educational activity, improve their social, emotional and cognitive development. Similar to pets, they become life companions. It is common to see that these children have an innate predisposition to focus their attention on the robot, assuming the role of educator, thus increasing their self-esteem.
4. Reduce the feeling of loneliness. All of us have lived in confinement this year, and the children have suffered like the most not being able to be with their friends. We have increased family time, and although the communication apps have been a success, the feeling of having a friend side by side has not been covered. Social robots with their current capabilities, more than any other gadget, reduce that feeling. You know that something or someone is with you.
5. They are tireless companions. An inexhaustible source of stimuli that awaken the senses while educating respect for others. They are never discouraged, nor discouraged. Always available for children to have fun learning.
6. They make you laugh. Not always, but they try. And that already makes us feel better. It is a great therapy for everybody.
7. They improve responsibility. Social robots hold us accountable for their care. And this also teach us to prioritize ourselves.
Social robots work as learning tools, as motivational agents that facilitate social integration. And adults must always be close to adequately manage the potential benefits of social robots that live with us in our day to day.
While education takes time to rethink itself, children follow their rhythm. And, it is our obligation as parents, to always find the best way to help them in their development, but more so in these times where speed of adaptation can be key.
If we do not have enough quality time (there are many reasons, and it is usually associated with our life model and the little margin that our working hours leave us to get home with enough energy), if our child needs a reinforcement in their soft-skills or we simply think it is good for him, if he is an unique child in the family and for any reason he has not enough social time to play with his friends, and many other possible conditionals, in all those cases perhaps a good tool is to incorporate a social robot into his life. Knowing our weaknesses and looking for solutions to improve them is something that makes us better people. And if a social robot helps us to be better, even improving our creativity, why not use it?
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