Check out my cool signs! Lincoln Sign Company is located here in Lincoln, NH, home to our White Mountains (which are still mostly brown right now), the Pemi River (which is always damn cold no matter what the season), and plenty of great kids. There are many things to love about a small school, but today when I carried my signs in (knowing they are safer here in my classroom than at home where they could be used as weapons, ramps, or sides of forts), students complimented the signs themselves. “Krill, those are awesome! Did your books come in yet for your signing tomorrow? (Side note: they are due to arrive tomorrow, so if you see my favorite UPS man, Ted Russell, please tell him I’m rooting him on!) Who did your signs? Those will look great no matter where you are selling your books!” And the best, my favorite, the result of which you see here. “Can we take a picture with them?” Why, yes, we can students of AP Language and Composition. You are probably thinking, well, this must have freed them from essay reading and writing and analysis of the ever- feared multiple choice question for a few minutes. And it did, momentarily, but a whole group of kids who choose to take an extra challenging course in English are genuinely excited by the prospect of their teacher having published a book. This does not equate to them always being excited about my class. But then again, it’s not my job as their teacher to always make our content fun and engaging. Sometimes, they just need to buckle down and learn what they need to learn.
And so the other day we were discussing technology related to our ability to communicate with others in reference to what Thoreau would have thought about students today and whether we are losing the art of truly living in the moment. A student was using her phone to reference an article she had read, and she found it quickly, read the quote, and the discussion continued quite seamlessly with students sharing, not talking over each other, and being respectful of different ideas. A moment I was proud of for sure as they had come a very long way from being the squirrelly ninth graders in the same room– could it only have been 3.5 years ago?
Then, the scrolling happened.
She was still listening to her peers, I believe, but she was also engaged in the act of scrolling through her newsfeed, or email, or Facebook; I’m not entirely sure, and it doesn’t matter so much. Other than, the next words that came out of my mouth were, “Your generation is addicted to scrolling.” I wished I could take them back because to use the word “addicted” meant a negative connotation, almost accusatory, which I didn’t mean it to be entirely. I, too, am guilty of the scroll, but generally it’s home at night after my kids are asleep, and I’m avoiding the dinner dishes or the laundry or the pile of grading.
We carried on about the scroll– about the noun form evolving from back in the day when scrolls held religious text and important communications with fancy lettering and antiquated language. We talked about even just the act of scrolling, and how intuitive it is for even toddlers once they discover a smart phone or tablet. Together we decided my next blog would be cleverly titled “To Scroll or Not to Scroll? That is the Question.”
The scroll itself is not the problem, but the constant scrolling, or the inability for some people to not scroll when given a few free minutes to look at the world around them is what worries us most, we decided. The other day we read an excerpt taken from Richard Louv’s The Last Child in the Wood (2008). The purpose was to examine the rhetorical strategies Louv uses to convince his audience that we must be more conscious about our technology and its timing. He writes of this last generation being the ones to tell their kids about how we used to as children draw on the steam of the windows while driving to Grandma’s house or count the cars with license plates from different states. It’s a great read about saving future kids from nature deficit disorder if you haven’t checked it out.
Mind you, this is the same day, I spoke to another class about feeling saddened by their childhoods being so overshadowed by the violence in the news between shootings in San Bernadino and Planned Parenthood just to name two in the last week. Another student interjected, “We have these shootings, but it’s no different than your generation having Vietnam.” This was several days ago, and I still can’t get passed the fact that he thought I was old enough to have been a teenager during Vietnam. Our ideas of what constitutes a generation are very different.
I’m going to believe our kids won’t spend all of their leisure time scrolling because we as parents and teachers and community leaders are modeling for them responsible use. To scroll or not to scroll? This remains the question.
Local Peeps: Author Signing tomorrow (Wednesday, Dec. 9) Woodstock Winter Walk at 115 Main Street (Out in front of Gifts from the Fields, Farms and Forests and Cascades Coffeehouse and Cafe)