Sunday, May 7, 2017

Back When I Was a Kid, Goldurnit...

I'm going to put the premise of this post right up front: I love the fact that my students are going through fads like bottle flipping, putty, and fidget spinners. Seriously.

Now let me backtrack a little bit and say that I have had to, and will continue to, prohibit and take each of those things away from my students. They drive me crazy when they cause a disruption in my classroom. They are obnoxious.

That said, at least they are not electronics.

For every teacher that has complained about what a horrible thing fidget spinners are, the same people have lamented what technology and the internet have done to the children's brains. This doesn't make any sense.

Any time I have ever been to Conner Prairie with a school group, I have heard parents and teachers alike speaking out loud about how sad they are the kids don't get to experience the pleasure and simplicity of things like stilts, or playing the game where you have three rocks stacked on top of each other, where you can only hit the top one off with another rock without having to hit the middle one off. Or remember the old "get the ball on a string into the cup"? Of course you don't; your parents probably didn't even play that game it's so old-school.

But this is the same thing. I have no doubt that if I could find one of those ball-and-cup things, I have about a dozen students who would become obsessed with getting that ball into the cup. For a few precious minutes, these things are replacing the inherent cyber-bullying that comes with Instagram and Snapchat. They replace the kids craving their accursed phones or their iPads. The kids aren't being mean to each other and they're not gossiping. Let's not let go of a good thing just because the kids seem to love it. Let's remember what it is. It's a physical act, and not a digital one.

Yes, the kids will still have these things taken away if they cause problems. (And they do.) But I would so much rather this than the psychological torture that comes form the world of electronics in the hands of kids who have no empathy.

Don't complain about the spinners and the bottle-flippers. Tomorrow you are going to miss them, and you will find yourself asking, "Whatever happened to the days when kids got a kick out of flipping a half-empty water bottle?"

I think you will find that it was actually half full.

(Okay, okay. That one even made me groan. But you get the idea.)

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