A Life Our Students Will Never Know

Over the holidays, while attempting to be less “connected”, I’ve been thinking about how much technology seems to be increasingly infused into our day-to-day lives. With laptops, smart phones, iPads, iPods and other portable devices becoming so common place, gadgets are no longer something we go to, they come with us.

This clearly brings about many pros and cons. Technology lets us connect and access information more easily, however, being hyperconnected can compromise our health and wellbeing. Like many things in life, striking a balance is key.

Sometimes it’s fun to think back and remember how you did things pre internet/mobile/computer. These are experiences our students will never know.

  • Meeting someone for lunch/a movie/a walk/any event outside the house and not being able to let them know if you’re running late, lost or if your plans have changed.
  • Researching a holiday destination by reading a book. Booking accommodation by reading and trusting a small advertisement in a travel guide. Possibly going by recommendations of a small number of friends or family rather than millions of anonymous world travellers. Putting holiday planning in the hands of a travel agent.
  • Keeping up to date with news or weather by purchasing an outdated newspaper or waiting for the television or radio to tell you.
  • Learning almost anything from a valued encyclopedia set. If it wasn’t in there or in a book from the library then sometimes you just didn’t learn it! Maybe you would change the topic of a school project in line with what information you had access to.
  • Keeping in touch with friends or family who lived far away by writing letters and waiting patiently for replies.
  • Taking photos and then waiting perhaps a week or more until you had them processed at a shop. If your photo didn’t turn out well, you wouldn’t know. It was always a blind gamble.
While these tasks seem inefficient now, I don’t remember questioning them. Perhaps we had more time on our hands or didn’t desire a faster paced way of living. Perhaps we didn’t consider what would be possible.

This article reminds us that “there are some major downsides to relying on the Internet as our ‘external brain,’ including the desire for instant gratification, and the increased chances of making ‘quick, shallow choices.’ But researchers also say we networked young people are nimble, quick-acting multitaskers who will do good in the world.”

If the pace of the world is fast, connected and dynamic, then surely the networked, nimble, multitaskers will be those who will succeed now and in the future? Or will they?

Will successful teachers need to be networked, nimble and multitasking too? How do we ensure that we have balance in our fast paced lives and how to do we help students with this?

Many children don’t seem overly interested in hearing about days-gone-by, just as we were sometimes bored by stories of our grandparents as children.

The interesting question will be what stories from the year 2012 will our students take with them when they remind their children and grandchildren about the “ways we used to do things”? What will seem primitive about the way we live our lives now?

What do you think?

How has technology changed your life?

9 thoughts on “A Life Our Students Will Never Know

  1. Hi Kathleen,

    You raise some really interesting points that got me thinking.

    We are preparing students for jobs that don’t yet exist – that is quite a mind blowing thought. It is because of this that I think teachers definitely need to be networked, nimble and multitaskers. Isn’t that one of the reasons we are active on Twitter and blog?

    Balance in life is something that everyone struggles with throughout their life. How we can teach our students about it is a really tough question.

    Someone raised this thought in a comment on my post about homework. Homework has the potential to teach balance. Provide students with an activity such as playing a game with a family member along side completing a math activity.

    Parents can teach their children about balance as they help their child create a balanced schedule of their time when they come home from school.

    I guess we can only guess what will seem primitive years from now. It will be a funny thought. Perhaps children will be astonished that we ever used pens and paper or each child didn’t have their own computer, ipad etc.

    Technology has had a huge impact on my life, especially on my journey in becoming a primary teacher. I used to look at the profession as using a whiteboard, now it includes a smart board, blogs, computers, ipads etc. Technology has added a whole new dimension to teaching and learning.

    It has also helped me to not feel alone. Whenever I feel stressed or feel down, I look to my blog and other blogs I love and they make me feel positive again.

    It allows me to constantly learn new things, whenever I like. It keeps me open minded and reflective.

    Thanks for a thought provoking post,

    Ashley

    • Hi Ashley,

      Thanks for the comment and the Twitter RT too. I agree with you about the skills teachers need to have. Balance is a big issue for me and many people I know! I like the homework idea, I will have to check that post out.

      That’s true – maybe children will be astonished that we use pen and paper! Maybe they will be astonished that we had to learn to join our writing….

      I love the way we are constantly leraning and connecting with like minded people through technology. The pros certainly outweigh the cons for people like us!

      Kathleen

  2. Hi Kathleen,
    Obviously we caught you in a reflective moment. I note, with a smile on my face, that I am reading your article on an iPad. Simply put though, there were things that I didn’t experience when I was a boy and you wouldn’t have experienced as a little girl that your (and mine) parents probably reflected on. I know I missed out on not having a phone at all, traveling to school on horseback, or worse walking miles. I find that we must live for the day. I know that you embrace the technology and that your students are richer for it. It is good to remind them occasionally what it was like ‘in the olden days’.

    I don’t think that it makes us poorer for not having experienced what our parents and grandparents experienced, it just makes us different.

    I love reading your articles and follow your class blog with much interest.

    Enjoy 2nd term.

    Regards,
    Newton O’Dea
    Assumption Catholic Primary School
    Mandurah. WA

    • Hi Newton,

      The holidays are certainly a good time for reflection! How funny that you were reading my post on your iPad. Not so long ago, that would not have been possible!

      I agree 100% about living for the day and making the most of what you’ve got. At the same time it’s good to encourage our young students to be curious about future possibilities and history. Like you, I like reminding my students about the ‘olden days’….if you can call it that. I was born in 1981, but to them I might well have been born in 1881! :lol:

      Enjoy your second term too. It was great to hear from you,
      Kathleen

  3. Hi Kathleen
    Thanks for making think about the pros and cons of technology. As a mum (and grandma) I see lots of wonderful advantages children have with the introduction and development of tech tools and the connectivity technology provides. Would you believe that when I was completing my teacher training we have a whole subject on what we could do to help children cope with all the leisure time advanced technology would enable that we never had as children? Wow – how far from the truth does that now seem.
    Retrospectively I believe we should have perhaps had a subject that addressed how will we enable children to develop social skills particularly in face to face interactions as well as cyber safety and bullying. Great post!

    • Hi Louise,

      I laughed out loud when I read about the subject in our teacher training! I’ve never heard of anything like that before. You’re right, that seems so far from the truth now and your retrospection is spot on.

      Hope to hear from you again,
      Kathleen

  4. Hi Kathleen,

    This is an interesting post. I think it’s important to step back every now and then and try to take a wider view on the direction our lives and our society is going.

    As some of the other comments have mentioned, balancing the digital world with our daily life, and with some of the activities of “the old days” is very important. I think we are just trying to figure it out as we we go because it is all so new and the technology changes every day! The type of communication advances that seemingly happen every month nowadays used to occur every 20, 50, or even 100 years. Back then society had time to adjust and assimilate the changes, now we are just trying to keep up and it can be very hard to balance everything.

    I know I am doing less outdoor activities than I used to. I still spend a lot of time outside – hiking, swimming, and painting – but it is scheduled time, not as spontaneous as it used to be. I find that my “leisure” time is usually involved with the digital, networked world now.

    I think it is important to have extended times away from the computer life. It takes a while for our minds to adjust from our digital life to the slowness of nature and the benefits of tiring physical work, but I think those are invaluable resources. Perhaps camping trips and longer nature excursions are more important than ever now…

    Here are a few links that I thought of when I read your post:

    You’ve probably seen this before, but this clip from comedian Louis C.K. is funny and quite accurate.

    And this post from the Global Classroom Project talks about how our networked life in the “first world” may be distancing us from people who don’t have access to that connectedness.

    -Jonah

    • Hi Jonah,

      You always have valuable thoughts to contribute. Thank you!

      You’re right about the speed in which these changes in technology occur. It is hard to keep up and adjust. If it is going at such lightning speed now, how will it be in the future!

      I’m right there with you in regards to scheduled active/outdoor or non-tech time. Otherwise, I naturally am pulled towards digital “leisure” (or “work” – the line is blurred) time. It is so valuable though to step away from the computer. And as you said, it is perhaps even more valuable then in used to be.

      That video clip was very funny. Both the clip and the article highlighted the fact that people are becoming increasingly impatient and anxious when they can’t have instant gratification. Sometimes I find myself becoming this way too and I don’t like it!

      The post on the Global Classroom Project blog is so accurate. I often think about the benefits of global collaboration being so limited. You and I have found that with our own global projects where it was difficult to get involvement from the less westernised or wealthy communities. I’d love to find more ways around this as I think it would be so amazing for our students to reach further corners of the globe!

      Thanks again for your thoughts, Jonah.

      Kath

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