My good friend Dwight Carter recently shared a simple analogy that many of us can relate to.
He talked about one of the most boring times we experience as adults, when we are on a plane and have to “shut down” from the rest of the world by turning off our phones. The loss of connection is tough, not only for kids, but for many adults, as you often see them (and myself) pushing the rule as far as you can to get that little extra connection to the world. Whether it is text messages from friends, reading a blog, or checking tweets, it is nice to connect with those around us, and the longer the flight, the more we miss the connection. What Dwight said next was something that really made me think. This same discomfort that we feel with the occasional flight and disconnecting, is something that many schools ask of their students every single day. We have trouble “once in awhile”, while this is the norm for many of our students every day in school (I rarely see teachers shutting their phones off during this same time).
That being said, it is okay to “shut down” once in awhile and disconnect. I spend a lot of time on a plane, and I have learned to appreciate those moments that I can have to myself and my thoughts. This blog post was actually written on the plane. The thought of shutting down daily for 6-7 hours is a lot to deal with. Not only with the information that we do not have access to, but more importantly the connections that we lose.
The thing with kids is that they have been taught over and over to obey in schools. They learn compliance quickly and are okay with this. Some struggle, sneak their devices in, and connect in a subversive manner. I guess I want to always try to put myself in the place of those students. If I was asked by someone in a workshop (daily) to put away my device, it would say a couple of things to me. First of all, they don’t value the learning that can happen with the connection. Secondly, and most importantly, that you don’t trust me. Yes, sometimes we check out as kids and adults, check our email, read a link, etc., but is it not better to check out temporarily and come back, then to leave the space entirely?
I know as adults that we have a different level of maturity than our students, but a culture of distrust that starts at an early age, breeds that same culture an older one. We have to think about the culture that we are creating in our future.