Saturday, June 1, 2013

We Love Our Devices, But Need To Look Up

Source: Matthew Cordell
It goes without saying that just like most of the students we teach, we are dependent on our devices. From our social media connections, blog feeds, and our constant desire to keep up with our PLNs, we have the same tendency to check for updates.

The picture book Hello, Hello, by Matthew Cordell, was a real eye-opener when we read it to our students this year. So many of them could relate to it. The main character, Lydia, tries to talk to her mom, but she’s on a laptop. Then she goes to her dad; he’s on his cell phone. Lastly, she tries to say hello to her brother, but he’s too busy on his tablet. So many kids commented, “That looks like my mom and dad.” For others it reminded them of their homes where everyone has electronics in their hands, and sometimes in the same room. No one is talking, and they're all staring down.
Source: Matthew Cordell
So what does Lydia do? She leaves the house and shouts hello to everything that crosses her path. Her journey climaxes with an imaginary stampede on the back of a horse. You sense she’s gone a long time and that no one missed her. In a nice twist, the horse stops short as her cell phone goes off, her parents wondering where she is. When she returns home, she gives them things she’s found. The family puts down their devices to go outside together. The message is clear.

As we approach the end of the school year, it’s important to encourage kids to take advantage of the world around them, the one moving in slower motion than a click, tap, or swipe. What better time than summer? We need to model it as adults, too, because they need to know it's okay to disconnect. We want them to take the time to interact personally with others, go outside to explore, or create something with their hands.  

Having time to develop an idea without interruption rarely happens today, but it is important that it does. Constant interruptions kill the flow of learning, the ability to focus, and the opportunity to get immersed in ideas. Like the book, Hello, Hello, the video "What the Internet Is Doing To Our Brains" has the same message. It’s okay to unplug; everything will be there when we get back. There is a lot more than information on a screen. We just need to look up from our smart phones, tablets, and laptops to see it.


For more on how interruptions affect what we do, check out the post the "Secret to Creativity: Learning How to Say 'No'."

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