For starters I'll just get this out of the way- I'm 47 years old and I graduated from high school in 1987. My youngest is a senior this year and it has caused me to reflect on how much life has changed for students since I was in high school. Technology didn't really exist for educational purposes (although I loved my Atari as a kid). That also means social media didn't exist...along with all the pros and cons that come along with it...or did it?
I always find it a giggly moment when I look in my school mailbox cubby and find a package of school photos of myself. I'm not really sure what educators are suppose to do with that yearly stack of photos and I mentioned it on social media. Craig Badura, an eduhero suggested the following:
It got me thinking about that. I remember getting in trouble some years because when I got home with my package of school photos there weren't enough left for my mom to give to my grandparents. She just didn't understand how important it was to exchange photos with your friends and never bought a big enough package (in my eyes). Remember writing things like TLA (true love always) and BFF (best friends forever)...how different was this from my senior daughter, Kendall, using Instagram to both affirm others and be affirmed. Perhaps Instagram is just school photo swapping on steroids!
And what about that shoebox full of notes folded origami style that I kept under my bed? The ones I use to slip to my friends both during class (in the less observant teacher's rooms) or in the hallways as we passed. How much different is that from my Kendall using snapchat, Twitter, or texting to be social. I submit kids haven't changed, the stakes for connecting inappropriately have. How different is it for a kid to have their nose in a note between classes than their device? Isn't social, social?
And while Facebook is a thing of the past for our students, how different was everyone writing in the back of my yearbook and reading everyone else's comments than perusing someone's Facebook or Twitter wall today?
We, as a society, judge today's students for excessive use of screen time, and I'm not saying that we shouldn't be helping them discern when to shut off, plug in, and stop multitasking but let's keep it in perspective...the world has created a steroid environment of global connection yet when at a ballgame last night I watched kids with eyes on the game, interacting with each other, participating in life and occasionally chronicling it with their devices because they wanted the memory to remain. Students haven't changed. If the moment is engaging, students are all in. Maybe just maybe it's time for us to become more engaging parents and educators through relational teaching, engaging lesson plans, and intentional moments.