Would You–Or Do You–Monitor Your Child’s Digital Activity?

No Stone Unturned, Techculture

In 1994, when I was 13 years old, I did what I suspect many 13 year-old boys might do.  I snuck into my younger sister’s room, found her colorfully-bound private journal, read it, dusted off my fingerprints, and smirked, knowing I now possessed information to get under her skin.  It seemed like the best way to torment my sister, who didn’t deserve the heckling that ensued after I teased her about a boy she clearly liked.  She’d devoted several pages to him in her journal.

Fast forward to 2013.  I’m not sure how many students keep a traditional journal, but many students use social media and the internet to broadcast their thoughts by the day, hour, and even minute.  Many students either don’t think their parents know what’s going on, or they think their parents are oblivious to belligerent online activity.  Many parents are.

Given this fact, to what extent should parents monitor, curtail, or even spy on their child’s cell phone or internet use?

I’m not a parent, but as a teacher, I’m completely aware of the innocent and nefarious ways kids and teenagers use their digital devices.  I’ve heard students talking about Snapchat, where they can take a picture of themselves then send it to a friend or acquaintance, with the file being supposedly self-destructing after 10 seconds.  You can imagine the type of photos some reckless and hormone-riddled teens send to each other.  Some students bully each other to the point of tragedy, described here by blogger Caitlin Kelly over at BroadsideThen there’s Twitter and Instagram, tools many teenagers use to supply the world with endless streams of narcissistic drivel, trash-talk, and “selfies.

On the other hand, students engage in positive online communities relating to their interests.  I’m thinking about my students who are self-described “nerds,” using social media to connect with other anime or gaming aficionados.  “

Here’s some hypothetical scenarios to consider:

  • Imagine you’re the parent of a 15 year-old boy and suspect drug-use, bullying, or other reckless behavior.  Your son has left for the afternoon to hang out with some friends at the bowling alley, and, surprisingly, he left his phone on the kitchen counter. Would you search through your his cell phone records or Twitter feed without he or she knowing it?  What would you do if you found incriminating evidence?
  • Imagine you’re the parent of a 13 year-old girl, and you’ve been in a year-long battle with her over how she dresses.  Despite your best efforts to keep her from dressing in what you deem as racy attire, you suspect her exhibitionist streak is manifesting itself online.  While she heads to living room to complete some algebra homework, you notice her laptop is open and the screen seems to show a picture that can’t be your daughter in a skimpy bathing suit.  Except that it is, and you sneak into her room and scroll down to find other photos more fit for a 21-year old aspiring model.  What do you do?
  • Your child has just received his driver’s license.  You require him to check in whenever he gets to his stated destination, but you’re suspicious that he isn’t always where he says he is.  You’re also aware of small GPS tracking devices that can be affixed to cars.  Do you install a device, to keep secret tabs on where your teen is headed, given his new freedom?

A couple years removed from college, I helped a former sociology professor with field research for her book.  I interviewed parents about their own surveillance.  After conducting and recording 8-10 extensive interviews, it became apparent that those parent-child dynamics based more on trust, versus spying and surveillance, seemed to spawn healthier relationships.  At the time, the ubiquity of cell phones was on the verge of manifesting itself, but the prevalence of digital tools in our lives wasn’t as intense as it is 8 or so years later.  There are certainly new challenges and considerations for parents, regarding the choices about access and surveillance.

As parents and would-be parents, I’m wondering how you might respond to the scenarios above.  Or do you–would you–not allow a teen to have his or her laptop?  How about cell phones–at what age should a child have a phone?  What restrictions or monitoring do you–or would you–employ?  

“I like knowledge, but I don’t like school,” says a student.

No Stone Unturned

The following post first appeared on my Bluegrass Dispatches blog for Center for Teaching Quality (CTQ) on September 25th, 2013.  The blog focuses on questions, issues, and solutions surrounding the Common Core State Standards and School Redesign.  CTQ has an impressive array of teacher leaders and voices at the site–check it out!

I’ve cringed when I’ve heard students in the past make discouraging remarks about other classes, and if you’ve spent any time in the classroom, you’ve inevitably heard both positive and negative reviews of your colleagues. These informal reviews are often spot-on, a contention Amanda Ripley argues in The Atlantic, as strong evidence exists suggesting students are the best evaluators of teaching effectiveness.

But what about student voice regarding general school reform?  Is it possible student insight should be considered more as we redesign schools, classrooms, curriculums, and policy?  

Obviously, students don’t have master’s degrees in Education Leadership. Students generally don’t study pedagogy, read Education Week, or converse online about education-related debates. But they do know what is most engaging, impactful, and inspiring in schools. After all, they’re the subjects of countless lab experiments, so to speak, all with wildly different results.

I asked some of my students from Fern Creek High School in Louisville to discuss what changes they believe would be beneficial to schools. All of the students have, at some point, been frustrated with a “sit and get” model of education, and they didn’t prepare their responses.  

Listen by clicking here.  

What strikes you most about their words? For me, what’s alarming is their perception of a lack of student choice in course selection, in addition to a dearth of creative opportunities.  

As we plow ahead with implementing the Common Core Standards, it’s imperative that we design instruction to allow for discovery, creation, and action.

At Fern Creek, Brent Peters and Joe Franzen have designed a dynamic English III course centered around food, with students beginning each instructional unit facing a big question leading to critical inquiry, intensive writing, and hands-on learning: What is good food?Is food sacred?, and Is school lunch saving our generation? are among the questions students tackle. The class is a hit with the kids.

As for me, I’ve attempted to exploit the open-ended language of the CCSS to allow for student discovery, creation, and action as well, designing a digital media course titled Unleashing Digital Storytelling.

Can you imagine a school system that listens more to students?  What are some pros and cons to this approach?

School Segregation Persists, But Not In Louisville

No Stone Unturned

If you’re a black public school student in Chicago, there’s a 70% chance you’re in an intensely segregated school (90%+ minority student body).  Similar trends occur for Latino students in Los Angeles.  Examine enrollments in many urban districts across the land and you’ll see similar trends suggesting that despite our country’s status as a melting pot, many of our public schools are more like one or two ingredient stews. 

chicago public school students

And according to The Civil Rights Project at UCLA, fifteen percent of black students and 14 percent of Latino students attend “apartheid schools” across the nation in which whites make up zero to 1 percent of the enrollment.  

There’s no law driving these numbers, but there is also little being done to remedy inequities, and The Washington Post’s Valerie Strauss sums up the research: 

“Segregation in public schools has been linked to a number of problems that affect the achievement of minorities. Schools with a big majority of students who live in poverty have higher dropout rates, fewer experienced teachers and far less resources than schools with majorities of middle- and upper-class students. The studies note that expert teachers and advanced courses more common in predominantly white and/or wealthy schools help create educational advantages over minority segregated settings.”

If the above is true, then how come there aren’t more incentives for experienced teachers to teach in more segregated schools?  How come policy-wonks obsess over closing the achievement gap between white and minority students, yet most school systems accept these types of structural inequalities?  

Civic leaders and policy makers in Louisville, Kentucky, however, have long determined that we don’t want de facto segregation to rule the roost.  After all, we could have neighborhood schools that are intensely segregated by race and income.  We’re no different than many urban areas regarding housing and neighborhood demographics.

As school ended this afternoon in Louisville, thousands of public school students boarded buses to begin their journeys home.  For some, a simple five or ten minute drive delivered them to their stop.  For others, their trek included a transfer at a bus depot, and a much longer trip.  There are students who live in the predominantly black West End and attend schools in the lily-white eastern suburbs.  And vice-versa.

I grew up in Concord, NH, and I always attended my neighborhood public school.  It seemed like everybody did.  Bake sales, open houses, and other community events were big deals, and they were also relatively easy to get to.  More than 90% of my classmates were white, and I was oblivious and insulated from the challenges–both on a personal and systemic level–that plague our urban schools.

I honestly don’t know what would be better for our community.  We still have large achievement gaps.  We still have disproportionately high discipline problems with minority students.  We still have “schools within schools,” where tracking and AP courses result in classrooms segregated within our buildings.  Home and neighborhood influences still seems to exert greater sway over educational outcomes, despite the fact that many of our students, in theory, attend “better” schools due to busing.

I’d like to believe the busing has positive effects on the educational attainment–and also the personal growth–of our students.

Even if the academic effects are marginally positive, isn’t busing a good thing to help foster tough-to-measure human characteristics like tolerance? If you’re a single-parent in an impoverished part of the city, is it beneficial for your student to travel away from the neighborhood to attend school?  Does the busing lead to less neighborhood cohesion, as true neighborhood schools are generally diluted?  Do our students become more prepared for the “real world” thanks to exposure and interaction with those different from themselves?

Look forward to your thoughts.

Emphasizing the Gift of Attention

Techculture

Like most teachers, I’m a few weeks into the school year.   I’ve dealt with shifting rosters, a classroom change, opening-school paperwork, and trying to establish a positive, productive classroom culture. Though my classroom actions and procedures, I’ve implicitly and explicitly emphasized certain behaviors and values, like collaboration, being on time, and organization.

What’s new this year is an emphasis on attention.

Without teaching ourselves–and students–how to sustain thought and practice concentration, I’m wary all of our innovative technology applications in the classroom can become merely engagement gimmicks, distracting us and students from deeper thought needed to make meaningful connections and compose or read longer texts. I’ve previously written about the phenomenon in the context of digital versus “old-school” reading.

Can students learn effectively–and deeply–without being trained—or practicing—the art of sustained focus and thought?  Do we want classrooms to be places where digital tools and use are so ubiquitous that it’s difficult not to distract one’s self? It seems to be a disappearing skill for our young people, and while they might be clicking on hyperlinks left and right, Tweeting their friends, and completing a math assignment—all at the same time—I wonder how a generation of learners seemingly unable to pay attention will function.

But I’m not about to completely ban cell phones and discourage connectivity. Far from it.

I do allow students to use phones to access Schoology.com for classroom assignments and discussion boards. I do allow them to use the camera to take pictures for notes.  They may use dictionary and thesaurus apps, and they do have ample access to laptops and desktops.

It takes self-discipline–especially for struggling high school students, to avoid the constant pull of social media, music videos on YouTube, Twitter feeds, and other information streams.

However, we’re doing a disservice if we don’t teach students how to use the amazing technology tools out there.  In fact, to my amazement, only 4-5 out of my 80 students use Google Drive during an informal poll today.  Tomorrow’s lesson?  Explain how Google Drive helps my efficiency, productivity, and collaborative ability, then get them signed up, and share a document with a classmate.

Last year, I wrote about mindful use of technology, sharing these tips with the blogosphere.  I’ll do the same with students.

I’ll explain that I can’t write this blog post very well, for example, with 13 windows open while checking my phone for texts every two minutes. I’ll explain that while it’s great to compose 140 character messages in thirty seconds, it’s even better to write a 500-word blog post. I’ll  also admit that I feel the pull of digital distraction too, explaining that 20-25 minute focused bursts without multitasking is my preferred strategy for reading and writing.

It’s all the rage to supply all students with iPads or laptops, unleashing the power of technology tools for learning. We can’t forget what deeper learning entails, however, and whether or not our digital habits benefit academic growth.

So, can students learn effectively without disconnecting for meaningful periods of time?  How do you handle digital distraction in your own life?  Do you struggle staying productive?  If you are a teacher, do you allow cell phone use in the classroom?  Do you have a policy when and where phones are off-limits?  How do you enforce it?

Maintaining a Blogging Presence, Catalysts, and Inspiration

No Stone Unturned, Techculture

As much as I love being online, blogging, Tweeting, and the like, I don’t like how demanding it feels sometimes.  How, if I don’t write a captivating post or send out X number of Tweets, then I’m somehow falling behind.  How, if I don’t read and respond to some loyal Stew’ reader’s posts, then I’m giving them the short end of the stick.  How you might feel like you’re missing something if you’re not checking your Twitter feed.  Sometimes, I’m excited to publish a post–I just know it will resonate with readers–and then there is marginal response.

Blessed to have the opportunity to study in Europe this summer, I had plenty of time to observe, reflect, and gather "sparks" for new writing.

Blessed to have the opportunity to study in Europe this summer, I had plenty of time to observe, reflect, and gather “sparks” for new writing.

Maintaining a blog is a challenging endeavor, and I don’t recommend it if you’re not passionate about the writing process and discovery of new ideas.  The process of finding, refining, and revising my place in the real and digital world is what keeps me blogging.  If readers comment, great.  If readers don’t comment but I’ve enjoyed the process of composing a post, I’m cool with that.

For new bloggers out there, take heed: Melissa over at Freeing Imperfections blog has some solid realizations for new bloggers.  Here’s what she wishes she’d known when she began blogging.  Highlights include:

1. Blogging is not easy and it’s incredibly time-consuming – at first.

10. Not everyone will care that you have a blog. But if you care, the people who want to read your blog will follow.

14. Social media is good for blog growth. Before I started my blog, I thought being on it more would be a bad thing. Without social media, my blog would still be in the dark with no readers, reaching no one.

I’m conflicted, at times, over how much time I spend in front of a screen; this concern has appeared here and here and here in Mindful Stew.  Regarding Melissa’s point about social media, I don’t like to feel obligated to promote blog posts on Twitter or Facebook, but I do enjoy ensuing dialogue when folks leave comments.  It’s exciting to know that something you put out there strikes a chord with readers.  And now that I’ve dropped my number of posts to three or four a month, I try to be deliberate about publishing.

I want to write about what matters to me with a connection to more universal ideas and experience.  I want to write on Saturday mornings over several cups of coffee, and I want to write after experiencing an idea itch when I witness something out there in the world or online, whether it be a quote, a visit to the Farmer’s Market, or a news blurb.   I’m always fascinated by what great bloggers and writers out there like Caitlin KellyAnnie Murphy Paul, and Terry Heick encounter as catalysts for their own posts.

Soon, the school year will begin and I’ll have a deluge of new experiences and faces to provide sparks for reflection and analysis, and my own desire to balance digital and “analog” life will be put to the test.

I know I’ll have students who are constantly connected–many seemingly addicted–with their iPhones and Androids.  Part of me wants to tell them to disconnect, to observe the world around them and slow down their thinking, without mediating life through a screen. Another part of me knows it’s my job to help students navigate and use the digital world more productively.  

Although it’s not a new calendar year, the start of the school year marks a major shift for writing/blogging educators out there–we might have a ton to say, but finding time is tricky.  I look forward to continuing blogging on the ‘Stew, in addition to a blogging gig over at the Center for Teaching Quality.   Happy blogging, everyone.

What shifts have you experienced in maintaining your digital presence?  What tips would you give to beginning bloggers?  What are your “go-to” sites, experiences, or observations that often spark your own blog posts?

Should High School Students Have Jobs?

No Stone Unturned

Here’s a typical scenario that I’ve witnessed over and over again during the last several years as a high school teacher:

JP is an average student, receiving mostly B’s and C’s in school.  He wants to save up for a used car–perhaps a Honda Civic Coupe–and be able to pay for his iPhone bill. He doesn’t get an allowance from his parents or guardians, and he has very few connections to business owners, but he’s confident he can get a fast food job, since they’re always hiring. He gets a job at local fast food chain, signing up for 20 hours a week to start.

The problem is, JP decides to quit basketball, and stops coming to tutoring after school because he “has work.” In JP’s eyes, making money TRUMPS all extracurricular possibilities and improving his academic work. JP isn’t expected to help pay any bills at home, besides his phone bill, so he’s prioritized like many high school students do. Can’t live without the phone.

Each student who chooses to work has a unique set of circumstances. After ten+ years teaching, however, I believe very few high school students should choose to work during the school year. Would I recommend a student get a job instead of playing video games for hours on end after school? Probably. Would I tell a student he or she shouldn’t work to help keep the lights on at home? Nope.

firstjob_Large

I would, however, tell 9 out of 10 students to bypass that fast-food application and instead, join a team. Go to cooking club. Environmental club. Pep band. Whatever! Do opportunities to grow intellectually and emotionally through wholesome, non-work related activities trump any benefit the average student would receive working a minimum-wage job? I think so.

I’ve seen too many students come to school with baggy eyes, nodding off during first period because of a long work shift the previous afternoon or night. I’ve seen too many students fail to show up for tutoring after school–despite dropping grades–because of work. I’ve seen students quit cheerleading, football, and basketball in order to work.

On the other hand, I’ve seen what can happen if a student proactively decides to quit working in order to pursue new passions.  One student, who blossomed in my digital media class, struggled mightily at first to muster up the time and energy to do documentary work, toiling for long hours at White Castle. She helped pay the bills at home. But she eventually mustered up the courage to quit her job, realizing that giving herself more time for her newfound passion of photography and digital media work would pay more dividends than sweating grease.

She and another student started their own business within a year, but she doesn’t consider it work.

Admittedly, there are advantages to getting a part-time job. Gaining “real-world” experience and dealing with people, time management, and financial responsibility are possible byproducts from working. For some students who aren’t “good” at school, work gives them a sense of purpose.  And some students have to help pay the bills.

And I’ll also admit I never had to work, but I also never had my own car, nor did I have a cell phone. I worked various jobs during the summers: hauling furniture for a moving company, packaging rugs for shipment, and stacking pallets of beer during a graveyard shift.

Almost to a T, the most successful students from my high school class, if they had the choice, opted to participate in sports, music, and other extracurricular activities. Passionately. And it seemed to pay off regarding grades and, eventually, college and other post-secondary possibilities.

As a new school year creeps up, I’m crossing my fingers that our school will be able to connect with more disengaged students, whether it be with athletics, clubs, or other activities. In a roundabout way, I’m arguing for more opportunities and engagement in school, as high numbers of job-seeking teenagers might correlate to a high number of students fed up and bored with school.

Did you, or would you, encourage your child to get a part-time job during the school year?  Why or why not?  What am I missing in this argument? Why did or didn’t you work in high school?

Students, chime in too. What are you gaining or sacrificing while working?  Can you fit in work, school, and still get enough sleep?  Has your school work suffered because of work?  Why do you work?

Why I Can’t Romanticize The Lives Of Our Chickens

No Stone Unturned

I awoke this morning to feed and water my hens, only to find two of them mangled by an unknown assassin.  Both heads were missing.  There was no sign of forced entry.   Somehow the third had managed to escape; I found her frantically hopping around near the alleyway behind my house, and it looked like she was missing some tail feathers.

IMG_1260

The two barred rock hens were great egg-layers, quasi-pets, and cheap entertainment, providing plenty of smiles while watching them take dust baths, dig for worms, and squawk for no apparent reason.  As for the third hen, pictured above, my wife and I will find her a new home.  Chickens are social creatures and prefer to be part of a group.

As a gardener, hunter, and keeper of chickens, there is no end to learning, epiphanies, and opportunities for reflection.

I’ve learned which sections of my small yard seem to have the best soil for growing a variety of crops.  I’ve learned blackberries can grow anywhere.  I’ve learned to heavily prune fruit trees in the winter, that catnip tea makes a great natural sleep aid, and that green beans are amazingly prolific, as long as you keep picking them.  And I’ve had to reevaluate why and how I eat animals.  The list goes on and on.

Over the years, I’ve also had similar insights as fellow blogger Issac, who eloquently reflects on Michael Pollan’s book Second Nature: A Gardener’s Education in this post.  He writes, “The gardener accepts contingency, his/her own and nature’s: He/she focuses on the task at hand, acknowledges and learns from the past, but does not lament or philosophizes too much about why things happen.”

I’m saddened by the death of the chickens, but it’s over and done with.  By keeping the hens, I accepted dealing with their life cycles, whether predators, disease, providing meat, or old age leads to death–you shouldn’t romanticize the life of a chicken, although I suspect it is happening a lot now that backyard coops are gaining popularity.

I’ll undoubtedly face more challenges with future chickens, plants infested with slugs, lost deer trails, and droughts in the brutal Kentucky heat.  But these hobbies enrich my life in meaningful ways, and I can’t imagine dropping them for more sedentary activities that do nothing to bring me closer to life cycles, the soil, and the balmy air on a June morning in Louisville.

We Are Owned By What We Possess

No Stone Unturned

You want to live a life that matters. You believe that there is more to life than stuff, spending money and being in debt.

You want to live consciously. This means you want to be present in every moment. You want to live deliberately.

-Mark Lowe, Minimalist Lifestyle blog

I don’t desire to live in a tiny home, nor do I desire to part with all of my possessions.  But there is something to be said about the idea that we are owned by what we possess.  If you own a huge home and hope to keep it pristine, you’ll spend hours cleaning or forking over money on a housecleaner.  If you compare your possessions, cars, and clothes with those of your neighbor, you’ll spend needless mental energy comparing your stuff and toiling to acquire more. 

fuzzie-fredd-living-room-before

My high school students are immensely preoccupied with possessions.  Sure, it’s probably a teenage phenomenon, but the extent to which I see 16-year olds obsess over new phones, shoes, and video games–versus joining organizations, desiring to excel in their respective sports, or stockpiling new experiences–makes me wonder just how a large percentage of us have feverishly been entranced by the holy grail of material consumption. 

Is it widespread media saturation of brand names, mansions, and celebrity lifestyles?  Is it the ease with which we can purchase anything online?  Is it a lower-cost of consumer goods?  Is it the desire to one-up each other?  

It’s not just an obsessive accumulation of stuff that plagues our culture; expectations for living space has skyrocketed too.  Graham Hill writes in the New York Times:

Our fondness for stuff affects almost every aspect of our lives. Housing size, for example, has ballooned in the last 60 years. The average size of a new American home in 1950 was 983 square feet; by 2011, the average new home was 2,480 square feet. And those figures don’t provide a full picture. In 1950, an average of 3.37 people lived in each American home; in 2011, that number had shrunk to 2.6 people. This means that we take up more than three times the amount of space per capita than we did 60 years ago.

You’d expect that our bigger houses and faster, more tech-equipped cars would bring more life satisfaction and happiness, which are, admittedly, subjective measures.

Wrong.

Endless consumption does not result in increased happiness, largely due to what psychologists call hedonic adaptation.  Purchasing and upgrading endlessly brings short-term satisfaction, but no long term contentment–we get used to what we own, get antsy, then feel the need to obtain a jolt of shallow happiness from new shiny objects.

Most of us would be better off focusing on doing rather than having, according to this summary of research on consumption:

In reflecting on the past or contemplating the future, people are happier when they have experiences on their minds than when they have things on their minds. And the higher a person’s income is, the bigger the disparity between the joys of doing and the joys of having. Moreover, we don’t adapt to doing to the same degree that we adapt to having. The museum trip, the hike, the bike ride in the hills, the informal dinner with friends keep satisfying long after the Mercedes has stopped providing a thrill.

Spending money on hobbies or vacations seems to fit into the having and doing category–this is where I find I dip into the savings account.  Bow-hunting equipment and accessories are expensive, but the consumption also fuels one of my passions.  Same with collecting books.  The last thing I want to do is buy a new car.  Ever.  Nor do I see myself jockeying for a new job, resulting in a huge pay raise, if it significantly affects the quality of what I am able to do.

I’ll take doing over having any–or most:)–days of the week.

How about yourself?  What do you think is the number one force driving consumerism today?  What about expectations for increased house size?  How do you embrace the balance between doing and having?  Anybody out there get sustained happiness? from accumulating stuff?

Diminishing Everything But Now: Time and Technology

Techculture

“Time is not money. It’s the way human beings move through this thing called life. If we can bring ourselves to consider the ways digital technology can make time rather than simply take more of it, we will be in a position to live for a better today, right now.”

The-Time-Is-Now-Douglas Rushkoff, author of Present Shock: When Everything Happens Now

I’m currently on spring break, enjoying a “staycation” at home in Louisville.  For the next week, I’ve got plenty of time.  I don’t need to check my work e-mail.  For at least several days, I won’t log on to Google Drive to work on my lesson plans.  I will blog and check my Twitter feed for compelling links, but digital demands are low.   

When it comes to working as a teacher, I don’t save time due to digital technology, largely because I choose to engage myself in digital possibilities.

Digital technology funnels me a conveyor belt full of more responsibilities and requests, more e-mails, and more blogging and social networking opportunities.  I find myself constantly weighing whether or not to accept new digital tasks and challenges, because I’m sensitive to having the choice to spend time away from screens.

I have little tolerance for digital demands that diminish the idea of time, demanding instant response and engagement, making it seem like we must be connected or online all the time to function properly in our daily lives.  Or to be abreast what is happening now.  

I guarantee I didn’t miss anything important on Twitter in the past hour while writing this blog post.   

I’d go crazy if my job demanded connectivity 24-7, like a hedge fund analyst acquaintance I met at a bachelor party in New Orleans, who had to wake up–or did he simply stay awake?–for a mandatory 3:00 am  conference call with an overseas company to hear and react to their earnings report.  It’s a new phenomenon that so many moments, each and every day, can be perceived or required as crucial.   Rushkoff writes:

Our society has reoriented itself to the present moment. Everything is live, real time, and always-on. It’s not a mere speeding up, however much our lifestyles and technologies have accelerated the rate at which we attempt to do things. It’s more of a diminishment of anything that isn’t happening right now — and the onslaught of everything that supposedly is.

This idea of diminishment of the future and past, in addition to trying to process the onslaught of information is why I’m cautious when it comes to employing technology in my classroom.  How do we, and our students, thoughtfully plan out and execute a goal or project–generally think thoughtfully about the future–when we obsess over technologies that act to compress everything to the now?

How do we value time–or do we even care to save it–if all that matters is the present moment?

Forbes magazines list of The Least Stressful Jobs of 2013 is fascinating.  Besides University Professor, most professions on the list do not seem to have inherent digital technology and time demands that extend beyond traditional work hours.  Seamstress/Tailor.  Jeweler.  Hair Sylist.  Librarian.  Audiologist.  There also seems to be a correlation between working with your hands, and not a screen/digital technologies, for lower stress.

I think this one reason why I thoroughly enjoy building, hunting, cooking, and growing things to balance out the stresses and time-demands of my digital life.  

How does digital technology use or save your time?  How much are you influenced by the pressure of now as it relates to digital technology?  Do you attempt to save time during the day to engage more with a screen, or step away?