Warning: The following contains the thoughts of a grumpy old man. I only literally mean about half (possibly three-fifths) of what I say.
We teach kids the wrong lessons all the time, or we pass our best opportunities to teach them correctly, and then we blame society for ruining them.
This past Monday, we tried to enjoy a few simple moments with the kids. We went on a drive, tried to enjoy the scenery, and even saw a couple eagles at various points of the outing. The kids were bored. They wanted to know how long until we were home again. All of the aggravating stuff that plagues us during this digital age.
We let them watch TV too much. We let them play with the tablet. We taught then to think that technology is the source of fun. Se we ruined our own holiday drive, and conveniently blamed our kids and the Apple Corporation for our frustration.
It was President’s Day, a holiday established to honor our American commanders-in-chief. How many of you did something presidential? How many of you picked a president and visited his library?
Probably none – or at the most, very few of you. We call off school, ignore our U.S. Presidents (or their memories), then complain that kids don’t know anything about our history. We created a problem that we’re all-too-ready to blame on educators.
But it’s too late. For those of you fortunate enough to get President’s Day or Martin Luther King Jr. Day off from work, I doubt it’s a day away from the office that you’re begging to trade for a day of work or education. Instead we let the days pass, then fuss that kids don’t know Herbert Hoover from Warren Harding. We complain that they don’t understand what Dr. King was marching to do.
How can we do better? I doubt sending everyone back to school for those two days would do much.
And regarding my first problem, I doubt that hiding the iPad would have much of a lasting positive effect on my kids’ habits. Technology is part of their daily lives, and there’s really no turning back now.
But I’m not finished trying. My kids at school read I Have a Dream their freshman year with me. I have worked to introduce the presidents to my own children – they know several things about some o fht individuals who had the most consequential presidencies.
We have a house full of books. Kids need to read them.
We have a beautiful world out there to explore. Kids need to get out and explore it.
We have a history that is worth our kids knowing. Kids need to be introduced to it.
We have had leaders who have guided us through troubles. Our kids should know about the troubles – and grow to understand and respect those wo led us through them.
Many of you reading this have kids or grandkids who are blessed to attend schools where the technology is 1:1 meaning one computer for one student. There are countless books and articles students can access from most school districts.
Make them do it. Who cares if the internet is basically an endless library if nobody is going to read anything.
Minecraft on a computer is fine. Building something real is pretty good, too. One of these days, my kids are going to need to navigate this world in a vehicle: an afternoon drive on a country road will do more for them than hours of Google Earth.
So this old man has completed his rant. And as I read back over it, I can plainly tell you with whom I am the most frustrated. It’s with me. I’m aggravated with myself.
Matt Pearl owns and operates newspapers The Tri-County Ledger