My girls recently completed the first half of their school year. New school, new city, new state. Those three things alone have led to many thoughtful conversations around the dinner table, during car rides, and quite honestly we cannot truly seem to let a single day pass without some sort of criticism coming out of our mouths. We have prayed about it. We have reached out to the principal, the girls’ teachers and other school administrators. In return we have received blank stares, emails and phone calls without a response, and ambiguous retorts.
You see, we fell into the trap of finding an apartment in a specific school district because it was labeled as “the one you have to go to” and the “good” one. What I have come to learn is that like most things in life, it is simply an opinion, and it was our mistake for not doing a little more homework.
The school looks nice on the outside and the inside, and the teachers are kind, caring and compassionate. Those last few items being of high importance. The school itself is designated an “Apple” school, which is something I had not heard of before. And to be quite honest, the administrators of the school are very proud of this designation. The age of technology has won them over, like it has for most of us.
Now, don’t get me wrong, perhaps my daughters have teamed up to tell my wife and I that all they seem to do at school is “play” and “learn” on Ipads. “Play” is a relative term. The school has contended that “play” and “learn” are synonymous. So my wife, eager to see things firsthand, started helping in the classroom, and even went so far as to transfer her ability from California to substitute in the classroom. She has now seen exactly what my girls have been talking about. And just the other day she had one child hiding under his desk for two hours verbally upset that she would not let him be on an Ipad, another who kept crying because she wanted to be on her Ipad. This is a real problem, and at 6 and 7 years old to have children be upset over being told what to do is unreal.
The bulk of their 7.5 hour day is spent on Ipads. Yes, the bulk, as in more than 50%…more like 75 to 80% depending on how you look at it. So much so that their Ipads need to be charged before the end of the day. So much so that they have even been using them in their physical education (PE) classes. Are you kidding me? PE! I was told it was to record the laps they run, but that after running they were given “free time” to “play” on them. Kids need to run, play, jump and stretch. And we wonder why more of our children are obese than ever before. Children don’t need to chart their workouts…they simply need to be active.
But again, it’s an “Apple” school.
But Bill Gates, the well-known founder of Microsoft, and many others in the technology development field from Seattle to the Silicon Valley to Austin, Texas, and the greater Washington D.C. region, don’t have their kids on Ipads all day. One private school here in Waco, Texas, where many affluent folks send their kids, don’t use them at all. These kids start learning Latin and algebra at a very young age, and they are engaged in the classics.
The descendants of the technology gods may take a “computer” or “coding” course, but they still read real books, write with a pencil, draw out math equations and use their hands to learn science because these folks know that the basics matter. They are not constantly using “Apps” to do these things. One of my girls had to write out a Christmas story, and another a short report, and it was all done on the Ipad. No actual writing at all.
We obviously need and rely on technology daily. I have used it today to write this blog and send it your way. But we also need the fundamentals.
Our kids are getting too much stimulation, not enough exercise, worsening visual acuity, poor posture, headaches at too young of an age, and their brains are literally changing shape.
All I want you to do today is think about this situation and in some small way try to make a difference. Educate your friends and family. Donate a little time to read to a child. Find more time to play outside. Get back to the basics. And if anything, see technology as a tool to make your life better, not something you must depend on to “MAKE A LIFE.”