Beginner's Mind: Teens & Tech

As adults, we so rarely approach problems with a beginner's mindset. It's difficult, to be sure, to suspend the things we believe to be true, in order to find solutions we did not know were right in front of us.

Chatting with youth about what it means to feel scared in the face of disaster and how might technology may help one become more resilient in the face of a tragedy was eye opening to me. It brought out my beginner's mind in a way I had not expected. Just a few weeks ago, Teen Tech SF gave me a great opportunity to mentor young technologists through a hackathon where one of the challenges was centered around disaster resilience.

Just a few days after the Paris attacks, I thought the youth might be afraid to dig deep about the fear a disaster presents. (I know I was.) Or that they might be unable to see the possibilities technology could provide to helping a community unite. (Back again to beginner's mind.) But they were having none of that. They dug deeper than most adults when faced with the topic: "How might we calm fear and encourage resilience, post-disaster."

Two young women with no coding experience, but with great artistry and imagination, scoped an application that united people, shared information and provided safe passage to those in need. Their depth of understanding the needs of those in fear and their beginner's mind approach to combining existing technology solutions to meet community needs was powerful and smart.

A vital reminder that one does not need to be an "expert" to provide a valuable, capable and strong solution to the problem. A valuable lesson that being a beginner is powerful, powerful indeed. 

Gov2.0Alicia Johnson