APP (Appreciating Positive Progress)

apple“App”   …… a self-contained program or piece of software designed to fulfil a particular purpose; an application, especially as downloaded by a user to a mobile device.

"Apparently there are these new apps that will actually read your emails to you"


Have you noticed how much more use the Index Finger is getting. No longer just a pointer it is now has a second major role. It has to “swipe” and “tap” as well.  This latest step in human evolution was brought to my attention when my 3 year old grandson used his to puncture my laptop screen. Well I should have told him that I was still “mousing,” but I hadn’t. After all it was his six year old brother’s fault. He should have shared his i-pad.

Within a couple of weeks I had “Amazoned” a new laptop and was labouring under the influence of its touch screen, touch pad and Windows 8.  My progress was, of course, slow, laboured and hopeless.  I kept on losing any screen on which I was working. And when, more or less simultaneously, my Yahoo email presented itself in its new format, I was desperate and left with the only possible conclusion. I was a true “has been,” with a brain that was too slow and with fingers too fat. I considered surgery but rather than remodel my fat digits I just went out and bought a wireless mouse.  Thankfully some semblance of normality returned, long live the good old ways.

A month or so after this life changing experience I visited with my one year old granddaughter. Yes believe it or believe it not her index finger was already in action. She waved it regularly at Peppa Pig and family.  After Peppa she always stopped off and visited with Iggle Piggle, Makka Pakka  and the rest of the homeless living in the Night Garden. Why she did this heaven knows.  I couldn’t understand a word yet, this young lady was absorbing everything easily.  The linguistic skills gene had definitely skipped a couple of generations. It definitely missed me. Also I do have another excuse, my hearing is in decline and generation gaps are bound to emerge.  

This distance between young and old started to bother me.  I began to realise that perhaps I could find a new role for myself. Yes, it was my job to bring some earthly sanity into her life. “Back to basics” was the cry. I pronounced a moratorium on her “Apps” usage and started pushing books under her nose. She accommodated, but only to a certain degree, casually index-finger-skimming through the pages. We were soon “reading” a book a minute. What?  A champion speed reader in the family at last, great!  Within ten minutes, the call of the Tablet was again heard and we were back swiping the screen.  Folks, paper is dead. It just can’t compete with an apparatus that allows a one year old to interact at will,  moving objects around with simple movements of her finger.

I was left pondering mankind’s ultimate fate.  I could only conclude that within 10 years kids will not write any more. They will simply type their way through life.  Handwriting skills will be a special subject topic.  Those teaching “writing,” to a few curious and gifted scholars, will be as rare as Greek philosophy professors.  And what will schools look like? Well, will there be schools? The mind boggles at the changes that are coming.

For a bit of diversion I decided we should get outside the house away from i-pads. Granddaughter and I should go and enjoy some fresh air. “No,” said Mum “It’s too cold and too wet. We’ll go where the entitled generation go. We’ll go to the indoor play area.”

I didn’t reply. I just put my coat on. What a difference two generations make. What’s wrong with going out in the cold? Oh well, I suppose I should be excited. After all I’ll be doing something new. I’d never been to an indoor play area before.
I must say I was impressed. It was recently built and big, a 50 x 50 metre barn.   Three sides of the square contained the play apparatus.  The fourth was covered by tables and chairs where mums and dads kept watchful eyes on their offspring’s antics. The central area was a bicycle and scooter menagerie and looked great fun.

We choose a table and dumped coats and shoes.  Our young gymnast was quickly away into the under twos section. Ignoring any age restrictions I followed behind and watched in amazement as she negotiated the ladder up to the top floor of the play house.  Now, these days I don’t bend so well and crawling on my knees is something I try to avoid. But “when needs must” the old devil kicks in. So I followed the dear girl as best I could. But she was too quick and was soon hurtling down the final slide, back to ground level, into a pool of plastic balls. I looked around. I had two means of escape, to use the slide or to back track on my knees.  Knee conservation won and I took the slide’s five feet drop.  Yes, a pool of plastic balls cushions the momentum of a 10 kilo child very easily but not for a heavyweight Granddad. They are a disaster. I just crashed through and my backside hit the floor. Wow that hurt! Somehow I managed to struggle back to our table.

Our young adventurer was already on the steps up to the trampolines. Luckily she wasn’t really interested in them, and quickly moved on to her next objective, the three storey high commando course. To prevent an obvious disaster I rushed over and carried her up the slippery plastic roll stairs to the top deck. She didn’t like the interference. The two of us, then had to duck and weave past swinging obstacles. We crawled under and jumped over some fixed bars.  We emerged finally on to the top platform and stared down a 60 degree inclined wavy slide. Our route back to terra firma was not for the faint hearted.  I wedged her ladyship between my legs and gripping both sides controlled our decent. Never exceeding more than twenty miles per hour we touched down safely in one (two) pieces.  

After that I left her to her mum for the scooter session and other adventures. Ultimately she gave up on all the plastic apparatus and simply continued her enjoyment by crawling under the tables and through chair legs. I had to smile. The simple, daft things still really matter.  There is hope for this world after all.

Back home, after a snooze in the car, her ladyship was soon back onto her Tablet and into educational App time. Numbers appeared on the screen in a random fashion, to be swiped by the ‘finger’ into numeric order.  Another App offered a similar manipulation with letters of the alphabet.  I must say they were brilliant. Learning is definitely taking on a new dimension. Mathematics and reading are, of course, obvious candidates for thousands and thousands of Apps. And OK, Apps will not guarantee that the subject matter is understood but with all this knowledge available for free the teaching profession is under very serious threat. Also just think how many trees will be saved.  There will be no need for pens, ink and paper.  And as far as Grandfathers passing on their wisdom to the future generations, well, we will simply have to learn and join the club, Appreciating Positive Progress.

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