Sunday, April 02, 2017

The Origins of Selfishness

It has been a tradition in our area to offer an all night after prom party as a safe alternative to parents renting out a hotel suite open to whatever debauched imaginations of teens can compose. Usually these events were held at places like Main Event or PinStax which offer generally wholesome activities like bowling, laser tag, arcade games, etc. It was a nice way for kids who either couldn't afford prom or who didn't go for various reasons to still enjoy a rite of passage.

Traditionally it has been a function of some group on PTSA to make arrangements for this event. Reservations, raising money for scholarship and door prizes take awhile to assemble.  Generally speaking, even if prom itself was stuffy and overly dramatic, most kids enjoyed the after party. Parents appreciated it as well, knowing their kids would be less likely to get in trouble.

Our prom was officially announced. Then it was announced there would be no after prom. Why? As I found out from my inside sources (kids talk...) it was because the PTSA Mom whose job it was decided that since her little babies graduated in January that it didn't matter. I could perhaps forgive this woman if she had been heavily involved in serious work. She's not. She appears to be somewhat of a trophy wife who drives the latest Mercedes and whose children were very, shall we say, elitist.

So if you wonder where this self-centered, I am the bellybutton of the Universe, attitude comes from, look no further than the parents. I feel sorry for the kids still here. What could have been a fun, penultimate and inclusive event is now nothing. It's too late to arrange an event. We're out here trying to teach kids that commitment and responsibility matter and yet their own parents can't even take care of those things they committed to do.

Saturday, April 01, 2017

Phone Addiction: It Makes Crack Look Tame

This has been the environment in our home for too long. With three boys and three little machines attached to them like the nuks they held so tightly as babies, I can no longer reach them. Their attention has been stolen by these screens. Their minds so needing the quick fix of their phones, a simple dinner conversation without a flashing screen has become torture.(Article Linked above in first line....)
My response:
I wish more parents were like you. I teach high school. Worse than that, I teach high school in a district that thought it would be forward thinking and educationally sound to have students bring their own technology into the classroom. So whereas phones were forbidden in class except when teachers needed them for online coursework, now phones are on all the time. Students walk down the hallways, earphones snaked under their clothes, listening to what I can only assume is the soundtrack they believe is underlying their daily lives. They secretly text and watch movies in class, necessitating that they have to sit on the floor in the hallways during lunch, with their chargers plugged in, so that they will be able to text during their afternoon classes.

I've been teaching a long time. Instead of increasing depth of knowledge, the impact of phone addiction (for I truly believe that is the nature of this situation) is that students lack social filters and many are incapable of carrying on a rational conversation, much less a supported debate. They are less articulate, less able to write intelligently and are essentially lacking in the ability to focus. The irony is that the imposition of technology is viewed by the educational hierarchy as something to be supported because it can be quantified. What they have not considered is the impact down the road.

Consider this. We now teach young children to read using electronic screens rather than printed books. Electronic screens are constantly moving, causing eyestrain. In prior generations, most children with vision problems were caught in first grade, when they started reading. Young children have no word for eyestrain, they only know that reading makes their head hurt. It's basic operant conditioning that explains why our kids are reading less, thinking less, doing less. I promise you that those kids in China, Russia and Denmark that are kicking our kids rearends in educational benchmarks are not learning this way. It's lazy. And it's turning today's kids into ready consumers for whatever popular fake news comes down the pike.