Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Retrospection about the Future

You are probably reading this title and wondering if I know what retrospection is. The answer is yes! It is looking in depth at the past. Today my mom showed me this video.

It made me think about the generation of which I am a part, which my students are a part. What happened to the days where creativity and critical thinking were essential? Running around town, hanging out on the box (my friends and I used to spend hours talking by an electrical box at a friend's house), building sledding hills from the staircases, and reading a book on the porch because we only had 40 channels (most of which were the news).  I remember being faced with difficult problems in school and not being told the answer, but having to use what I did know to figure it out. There are glimmers of this creative and critical thinking still: in the student who draws and writes, in science class when students have to figure out for themselves how to build simple machines and get excited when they finally figure it out, in the student who tells me about playing school at home. For the most part though, we have become a lazy generation.  Why aren't we trying to make a change and seek human interaction? Why do we submit to the trends of technology even if we think the latest apps are dumb?

What has happened in the last 10 years? I have students who see a slightly unfamiliar math problem and give up immediately because they know eventually we will go over it. I have students who told me that they were looking forward to vacation because then they could play extra video games or spend the day laying on their beds texting their friends. What happened to going on vacation and experiencing the world?  I have students with attentional issues, who are rude, who feel lonely and cannot get along with peers. Could these things stem from the influx and availability of technology we have at our fingertips?

Phones, computers, and televisions all have a way of holding our attention for long periods of time (to watch a movie, to watch 5 episodes of House in a row, to play a video game always having to get to the next level). What suffers because of this? Students do not know how to focus on the things that are PRESENT and REAL, whether that is people or schoolwork. They spend more time texting or snapchatting their friends than actually talking to them! No wonder they are rude, no wonder they are lonely, no wonder they have problems getting along with peers. They are in need of human interaction! We can be emotionless with technology. It is easy to communicate with technology because we can disconnect, really think about how to respond inoffensively to someone, or say things that are just plain mean and follow up with a "jk." How is this ok?

Everything is at our fingertips: no need to do real research, no need to learn how to spell because spell check does the work for us, no need to learn interpersonal skills/nonverbal communication, no need to think for ourselves and solve problems. Have we become slaves to our technology? Have we become like robots, relying on technology for our every move?

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