Ahmed’s Clock: dust is settling but child development ignorance remains

Paul Mirengoff highlights the idea that 14 year-old kid makes Obama his dupe.

Why would Mohamed bring the old device to school? I can think of only two plausible reasons: (1) to get credit from his teacher or (2) to cause a reaction by those who might fear the device posed a potential danger.

The first motive seems unlikely. From all that appears, there was no assignment that called on him to bring in a device.

Mohamed claims that he was encouraged by his father to bring the device to school to show off his skills to his engineering teacher. But taking apart an old clock would involve no engineering skill or inventiveness.

Obama, on the other hand, appears clearly to have overreacted. Bringing in part of an old time clock doesn’t merit an invitation to the White House. Obama should have had someone fact check this story before proclaiming Mohamed emblematic of what makes America great.

Some who initially sympathized with Mohamed have confessed error. Famous scientist Richard Dawkins, a leftist, said he “feels like a fool” for having been taken in by the hoax.

There remains one anomaly: “When the device started beeping in class.” The clock was a plug in the wall type and even then would need to have an alarm set and turned to make any noise so it wasn’t the clock that was beeping. Some critical data is missing in this story even after several days.

Keep in mind this is a 14 year old 9th grader. Yes, his dad was a middle east activist. Yes, it was a repackaged digital clock such as could easily be found in a thrift store or at a garage sale and not the work of engineering genius. A video that shows the kid waving a pencil type soldering iron around a surface mount component on some salvaged circuit board shows the lack of ‘chops’ in that area as well. But it is a 9th grade boy we are talking about: a young teenager just at the algebra stage. Pushing against authorities? Check. (with encouragement from his Dad, even, it appears). Taking nifty things apart? Check. Using existing stuff to make something that ‘looks cool’? Check.Tweaking teachers? Check.

At 14 years old, a home-brew clock effort would need careful guidance such as building a kit or following a projects cookbook recipe. See, for instance, the materials available for the Picaxe or the Arduino or the Rasberry Pi. These all require software and the code needed for a clock is surprisingly complex. A 9th grade is most likely to use the code provided in a kit or cookbook and maybe tweak it a bit.

The school personnel should know these things., It is their vocation, after all. That is what makes the over-reaction noteworthy. The President has children and he should have some feel for childhood intellectual development. But what Mirengoff illustrates as does the arrest of Ahmed, is the presumption that a child is just a small adult. That is perhaps problem number 1.

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