Call me Chicken Little

The Husband and the Daughter don’t read my blog- they figure they live it first hand, so why should they read about it.  But my daughter does ask me what I wrote about that day, and we discuss it.  When I told her about Friday’s post, and how I portrayed it- she said she wanted to read it.  After she read it she told me that a) there was a typo in the first sentence, and b) she thought I didn’t explain myself properly.  She felt I was coming from a position of anger.  Was I?  I asked her why it was bad, and she explained that when you’re angry, the only thing that comes across is that you’re a little crazy, but your point doesn’t always make it.  So I’m going to give you what I hope is a clear mission statement, and then I’m going to expound.

I like technology.  I have no doubt that technology has made things easier.  I have no doubt that technology has made things better.  I love my computer, the internet and my smart phone.  I even like audio books.  I am not a luddite, and I make use of many tech gadgets and apps and whatever.

Here’s the problem as I see it.  Though tech is great, we have to watch that we are not overdoing it.  Everything should be done in moderation.  To rely on technology to a degree that we are literally always holding a tech device is not good.  To replace traditional learning methods entirely is not good. I feel that you need to understand the process before you can proceed.

I really started to fear for our society after reading 2 books- “The Circle” by Dave Eggers, and “Feed” by MT Anderson.  I am now going to give some details about each book and why it scared me- if you don’t like spoilers continue to the next paragraph.  In “Feed”, children are no longer taught to read and to write- these arts are considered ancient.  People have chips implanted in their brains that tell them everything, enabling them to telepathically send messages to others.  Think this sounds great?  Think about if you never used words- how do you think you would speak?  Do you think you could form sentences?  Do you think you would personally know more that about 100 words?  Do you think any great scientific advances will be made if no one can think about what might be possible?  If no one has imagination?  In “the Circle”, people are so busy liking things and participating in social media, they no longer experience life.  Why actually travel- you really only need one person to travel, and they wear a body camera and send you back pictures- you don’t need to leave your couch to climb a mountain- but you can like and comment.  Oh- and privacy is a thing of the past- there are no secrets in the circle- every knows everything about everybody.  The possibility of these things scare me.  The fact that I think they are entirely possible scares me.

But am I wrong?

I don’t say those words very often, so pay heed.

I was out with friends yesterday, and began discussing why I thought students should not be using audio books for school lessons.  My friend said “Why not?”  Do we need to read and write?  If tech can do something better, shouldn’t it?  This is how we advance, by using technology.  You’re old.  You don’t want to change.”

Ok- I admit.  It was the “you’re old” part that got me.  Am I becoming a crotchety old lady who is going to go around saying “In my day, we actually looked at words on a page……”

Let’s look at my title today: Call me Chicken Little.  I think I’m clever, playing on a combination of two different literary works- I think I’m using my base knowledge.  But does it matter if most people don’t get what I am referring to?

Do we need to read and write and do basic math skills?

I’m going with a big resounding –Yes we do, because it helps us learn and think.  I don’t think we can advance by forgetting the basics.  I think not knowing the basics will only bring us backwards.  So please, call me Chicken Little.

But am I wrong?

Am I crazy?  (about this- let’s limit the crazy to one thing at a time)

What do you all think?  Should we try to tame the tech monster?  Do we need to?  Is it too late?  I’ve had many discussions about this with many other bloggers the past few days- and I think we really need to think about this.  Before the sky falls.



A Proper Education: A play in 1 act

The Setting: A restaurant in New York City

The Players:

  1. Parent- Resides is affluent suburb of New York City, which has a top rated school district.   Mother of twins who are about to enter 7th grade.  Twins have always attended public school, but after first year of middle school, parent did not like the education they were receiving and has enrolled them in private school.  They will begin classes after labor day in new, expensive school.
  2. Me- I hope you know a little about me by now
  3. Father in Law
  4. The Husband
  5. The Daughter
  6. Husband of Parent

Players 3-6 are present, but for the purpose of this play, imagine them eating.

Parent- When I went to camp visiting day, I found out Twin Girl used audio book for her summer reading assignment.  Isn’t that clever?

Me- She did what?

Parent– You know- audio book.  She didn’t get to choose the book and she was really bored by it, so she got audio book.

Me– What….What….What book was it?

Parent-  “The Outsiders”?  I think that’s what it’s called.

Me- SE Hinton?  The Daughter had to read it in 6th grade.  Didn’t you read it when you were a kid?  Pony Boy?  It’s not a hard book.  It’s actually a pretty good book.

Parent– Is that the movie with Matt Dillon and Rob Lowe?

Me- Well, yeah- the movie.

Parent– Oh maybe she should watch that when she gets home (types what is assumed to be a reminder into her phone)  But don’t you think it was smart of her?  I couldn’t think of a good reason why she shouldn’t listen to the book.  Because she didn’t get to choose it.  Her other summer reading book was fine.  She didn’t need audio book, because she got to choose it.  She wasn’t bored by it.

Me- Ummm- she probably should start, you know, actually reading things.  Because she’s going to get assigned reading as the grades go up, and really, she needs to like look at the words on the page and…you know understand them, because what’s going to happen…..

The Protagonist (or antagonist- you choose) turns to the audience:

Me: WTF?  She was bored?  She didn’t get to choose?  You’re putting her in private school because she wasn’t being educated?  It’s school.  It’s about education.  Part of education is learning about things you don’t know.  Wait- isn’t that the definition of education- to learn about things you don’t know?  How are you supposed to grow as a person if you never go out of your comfort zone?  If you want to read something of your choosing, read in your free time instead of playing on your phone, with snap and insta and whatever other app is out there.  Sometimes we are bored.  So what.  Is there a job that is exciting every minute of every day?  Why is our society so fixated on not being bored?  And listening, while sometimes a lost art, is not the same thing as reading.  It’s just not.  Nor is watching the movie.  The object is to look at the words on a page.  Visualize what the author is saying- get the mental picture.  Look at the words- the structure- the punctuation.  These are a fiction writers tools- these are the things you need to look at.  It’s why it’s assigned.  And…speaking of…the teacher gave an assignment in good faith.  They are expecting you to read the book.  What gives anyone the right to not listen to a teacher when the teacher has realistic goals of a student?  I’m going out on a limb and saying that reading a book is a realistic goal.  And how can you, as a parent, say to me “Isn’t that clever?”  No.  It’s not clever.  Clever is writing a book.  Clever is inventing something.  Clever is creating an awesome science fair experiment.  Using audio book is not clever.  It’s lazy. AND….let’s not forget my favorite statement: “I didn’t see anything wrong with it.”  REALLY?  REALLY?  How about, there is not one thing about her using audio book that is right.  Nothing.  She has perfect vision- there is no impairment.  She knows how to read.  (I assume this because she does use snapchat- so there is some proof that she knows the alphabet and that letters put together form words, and word form sentences….wait- I’m actually not sure if she knows that, as she usually speaks emoji) How can you say she wasn’t getting a good education at the public school?  Does she know about work ethic?  Does she understand giving 100%?  Does she understand that you need to learn things in stages?  That education is starting with a base layer, and then adding, and adding and adding?  That reading a book is about completing a task?  And if she thinks “The Outsiders” is boring- what is she going to think about some other classic works of literature?

The Protagonist turns away from the audience, and looks back at the parent:

Me– When do the kids get home from camp?