Thursday, January 10, 2013

My Off Position

It started with the preponderance of children sporting new electronic devices on their first day back to school after Christmas break. Santa must have had a big sack full of smart phones, because I had to remind at least a half dozen elementary school students that phones get turned off when they come in the door.
"My mom says I gotta have mine on," is the response I get most often.
"Maybe mom doesn't know that you are just a few feet from a telephone wherever you go in this building," is my standard reply. "It's the rule. For everybody."
I understand the need to be connected to everyone all the time, or at least I'm familiar with it. I have a certain amount of compulsive attention to e-mail that runs along parallel lines, but not to the degree that having a mobile device strapped on to alert me of any and all changes in the world that includes a new pair of shoes or Justin Bieber's relationship status. My son is constantly approximating annoyance with his phone, wondering aloud, "Who could be texting me?" The answer is pretty simple: anyone. That's what leaving this door ajar will do. These machines that are always turned on are an invitation to use them. Why not send a quick message to your friend next door, just to let him or her know that you were thinking of them? It's so easy, a kid could do it.
And that's why I ask them to turn the new Android iPhone Whatever off. Have an interaction with the person who is standing in front of you. Listen to what they say. They might teach you something. I'm guessing that your mom probably mentioned something about that once or twice as you were leaving the house. Maybe she could text it to you: "don't 4get 2 lern." Or perhaps I've been looking at this all wrong. We should embrace this new technology and send all of our curriculum through tweets, texts and pokes. It might be easier to learn long division in one hundred and forty characters.

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