Glacier National Park 2010

Friday, February 15, 2013

Technology and Humanity

It has been a good week! And I mean that sincerely.  Yes I spent Sunday evening listening to tornado sirens blaring off and on throughout the night....and Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday were punctuated by torrential rain and flash flood warnings.....Thursday and Friday saw temperatures dropping.....but it has all been good.  I've stayed healthy although I still struggle with fatigue and pain.....but overall, I'm okay.

Writing projects at school are still going well.  My sixth grade students (11-12 year olds) have been working on biographies of their class mates. Each student was paired with another by drawing names out of a they would truly be paired with someone they didn't know well.  Then the students came up with a list of ten to twenty interview questions with which they planned to learn enough info to write a biography.....albeit a short one. Once the written work was finished, they had to do an oral presentation about what they had learned.....this was the week those were presented.  I have to say they really did an outstanding job.....and many commented how glad they were to have been to get to know each other better.  Surprisingly enough it was not the oral presentation which made them the most nervous. Rather, it was sitting down with and talking to someone they knew very little about that gave them pause.

I found that so interesting....especially given the amount of time children today spend involved in social media like Facebook and Twitter and texting.  Yes I know a person is supposed to be 18 in order to have a Facebook account but I have received countless "friend requests" from students at my elementary school some of them as young as 8 years of age! Of course I do not accept because my Facebook account is for interaction with friends and family and some of them have a crazy sense of humor which may not be understood by children. I have gone to each student and explained that when they've graduated from high school they may "friend" me again and I will accept......but for now they are too young.

Does that make me sound like a grumpy old lady?  Maybe...but I feel their time is better spent playing out of doors or reading or being involved in the arts......not "stalking" people on the Internet! If they spend more face to face time with actual people I think they will have more opportunity to develop understanding, compassion, empathy, sympathy, all those characteristics which I feel make us better people. So much is conveyed by a facial expression, body language, the sparkle of laughter in some one's eyes, the sheen of tears in those same can't experience these things through words on a screen no matter how many Emoticons one uses!

Don't get me wrong...I think technology is amazing! And I'm always looking for ways to incorporate said technology into the work I do with my students.....but there is a time for both interacting through computers, phones and Ipads and face to face activities.  When I was a child, the kids in our neighborhood used to play "Star Trek" as that show had captured our imaginations in a big way.....because the technology was so beyond anything we experienced in our daily lives.  How amazing is it that so much of the technology we saw on "Star Trek" has become part of our daily lives?

So here we stand....on the one hand living in a time where such great strides have been made in almost all areas of science and technology......and on the other, running the risk of losing our ability to communicate as loving, caring individuals  when brought face to face with other human beings. For now, I will do my best as a teacher to involve my students in developing technological skills they need to stay apace with our ever changing world......but I will also give them every opportunity to develop the life skills needed to interact with real people in their day to day lives.

And as I tell my boss every morning, "I love my job!"

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