I’ve been teaching for just over a decade now, and what a decade it has been! We’ve seen the advent of facebook, cell phones, twitter and the entire encyclopedia of social media tools threatening to overwhelm both our common sense and our social skills. Technology has transformed the classroom and the children who walk into the school in lots of positive ways, and in an equal (if not higher) number of negative ways.
I don’t have the research statistics at my fingertips, but I know that fine motor skills are decaying, literacy rates are poor, social anxiety is rising, attention deficit disorders are reaching staggering levels, and the constant battle to get the kids to focus, to speak for themselves, to look people in the eye, and to STOPTEXTINGINCLASS is driving teachers to the brink of the edge of the skin-of-their-teeth… Yet we must embrace technology, and all of its inconvenient bedfellows, because to suggest that we can ignore it is to go the way of the dinosaurs.
I’m quite partial to Little Foot, myself. Those were the days… pre-facebook, pre-instagram, pre-twitter… “The Land Before Time” movies. My children loved them. Sometimes, in my classroom, as I struggle valiantly to make sense of the ipad icons that seem to hearken back to the days of hieroglyphics, I feel like a dinosaur myself. But then I taught an Advanced English 11 class, and my faith in the future was restored.
They whined a lot, and I spent a small fortune on snacks and treats, and the begging for “just a few days’ extension” on assignments haunted me in my sleep… but they were pretty cool kids.
They wanted to learn. They challenged my ideas. They laughed at my wiener jokes.
(Sometimes, when a teacher is dangling on the brink of the edge of the skin-of-her-teeth, it’s really nice when the kids laugh at her wiener jokes.)
When school was finished for the year, I had a facebook conversation with the lovely Deena. Deena is an Egyptian princess with a penchant for ranting, begging for candy and making huge sappy doe-eyes when she asks for an extra day to hand in an assignment. We fought a lot. She called me “poop-hole” and I called her “dingle-nuts”, and we mostly got along famously.
Until she let Autocorrect interfere with our facebook exchange.
It may (or may not) have gone something like this:
Deens: Damn autocorrect… I meant to write gentle…
Me: You just told me that your friend is very… genital…
Deens: Not my fault! Autocorrect!
Me: Turn that shit off! You need to know how to spell!
Deens: You aren’t teaching me anymore. You’re not the boss of me!
Me: Yeah… well… Autocorrect isn’t your teacher either…
Deens: I wish.
Me: Do not.
Deens: Do too.
And so forth. I have to admit to not always being entirely mature and role-model-ish with my students, but we do laugh a lot, and this poem was born out of that conversation.
I’ve worked for the past week or so, trying to animate the poem so I could stick it on youtube for the kids at school to see. Headaches, brainaches, backaches… I believe I have a unique horomonal response to technology which may be akin to road rage. I never get as worked up with other aggravations in my life… my kids, my finances, my ex, my boggy uterus… as I do when technology gets glitchy and won’t work the way I want it to. It’s as if a tiny geyser of molten lava explodes in my right kidney and I have the uncontrollable urge to create the sound of smashing. I fought with the technology. I sort of won.
I used a cool little program call VideoScribe which only made me want to hurl body parts at the screen a half dozen times, which is pretty good in my techy experience. The voice-over is kind of sucky, but after three trips to the computer store and a variety of thwarted efforts with a microphone, ya get what ya get… ya get me?
So here is my spoken word effort at addressing the addiction to technology that causes me great woe in my classroom… it’s not a negation of techy things, it’s not a when-I-was-a-kid-I-walked-to-school-uphill-both-ways kind of ranting diatribe. It’s just an observation. A concern. A belief that our kids need more faith in their brains and their abilities than in the power of their cell phone.
And yes… isn’t it ironic that I’m blogging this, youtubing it, tweeting it, sharing it on the web. It’s reality. Virtually.
Hope you like it! Click on the photo to go to the youtube link. These lovelies are three of my dearlings who generously gave me permission to use their picture (after they stole my ipad and did secret-ninja-photo-shoots over which I had no control!)