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Ask Slashdot: Educating Kids About Older Technologies? 208

ProgramErgoSum writes "Horse carriages, vinyl records, telegraphy, black and white television are all great examples of technology that held tremendous sway decades ago and eventually faded away. Other systems such as railways and telephony are 'historical,' but have advanced into the current age, too. I think not being aware of the science behind such yesteryear technologies (or their histories) is not right. I feel it would be most beneficial to encourage kids to explore old technologies and perhaps even try simple simulations at home or school. So, what websites or videos or other sources of information would you reach out to that teaches the basics of say, telegraphy? Or, signalling in railways? Etc. etc." Do you (or do you plan to) educate your kids about any particular older technologies?
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Ask Slashdot: Educating Kids About Older Technologies?

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  • by ohieaux ( 2860669 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @01:33PM (#46066939)
    Actually, it's not a bad idea. Many of our modern technologies have roots in these old technologies.
  • by Connie_Lingus ( 317691 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @01:43PM (#46066995) Homepage

    i think your asking a more basic question then you may be aware...

    i think if what your saying is "should we try to instill into our children a general interest in history so that they may come to understand the powerful forces and the geniuses that have lifted this world out of superstition, poverty, starvation, and disease?", i think most would agree.

    if what your saying is that "son/daughter, i think you should really play Pong instead of xbone for this month so you can come to understand the roots of modern video game technology", well, not so much (at least for me).

  • by Freshly Exhumed ( 105597 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @01:53PM (#46067049) Homepage

    It's like claiming that Stonehenge is a feat that demonstrates the long history of English engineering prowess.

    Like when they got the feet and inches mixed up and ruined the Spinal Tap concert.

  • by Runaway1956 ( 1322357 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @01:59PM (#46067083) Homepage Journal

    Not a "bad idea", no. But - how do you choose, and how much do you teach? Horse drawn carriages, for instance. How many people realize how MANY kinds of horse drawn vehicles there were? How closely do you want to examine the suspension systems of each class of carriage? The wheels? The braking system? The harness?

    No, I'm not being facetious here. Or, not entirely, anyway. Carriages were pretty complex back in the day. Wheels broke, the tongues got damaged, harness had to be maintained full time. A significant portion of the population earned it's living by building and maintaining the various wagons, carriages, and coaches.

    Today, we take pneumatic rubber wheels for granted. How many of us could build or repair, or even properly maintain a wheel from centuries ago? []

  • Re:Unnecessary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Sique ( 173459 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @02:03PM (#46067109) Homepage
    A big advantage of the "old" technologies is that you can get them running with household items. It's impossible to built an integrated circuit at home, but it's quite feasible to build a steam engine. I learned a lot about technology by servicing my bicycle. I had a very old typewriter which was build on a completely different principle than the usual querty keys, it had a pointer which mechanically connected to a cylinder with the letters and only one key which caused the cylinder to hammer down on the carbon ribbon and the paper. Just to see that there are many different solutions to a given problem greatly increases your understanding of technology. So yes, I think you missed out greatly. All you had was magical black boxes which somehow did what you wanted them to do.
  • by hendrikboom ( 1001110 ) on Saturday January 25, 2014 @02:41PM (#46067323)

    The schools tend to teach history in terms wars, royalty, and loyalty to country.
    I won't pretend that understanding the dynamics of conflict isn't important.
    But the history of technology is an extremely important part of history that's usually given short shrift.

    -- hendrik

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay