An Interesting Teacher & Writer Analogy

I had an interesting discussion with my good friend Julie, who is a New York City 7th Grade English teacher.  After catching up with and greeting each other for the “New Year” waxing long, and catching up on news about on a certain “beloved celebrity”, we got down to the nitty gritty.

Julie both bemoaned and praised a new piece of equipment which she is now required to use in the classroom. I forgot it’s name, but it is the equivalent of MicroSoft Powerpoint. 

Instead of writing out lesson plans by hand, Julie uses  this computer program which helps set to it up for her.  Julie agrees that this particular program is very helpful and cuts down on the amount of preparation time needed to research and prepare multiple lessons.  

However, there is a downside.  When you utterly depend upon a computer to do everything for you. . . .  I’ve said it in a past post:  “If you don’t use it, you lose it.”

Julie’s students use laptops in her class, and she noticed that their penmanship had descended into the dark chasm of illegibility. To quote Julie:  “You couldn’t read a darned thing they wrote!”  Why?  Instead of writing, they were tapping away on computer keyboards all day. 

So, Julie crafted little pads for each student, with a lanyard attached so that they could wear them around their necks everywhere they went.  Their assignment?  To document their thoughts in this little books, not the computer.  A step back from high tech, to no tech. . . . .

Julie is happy to report that since she initiated this project in January, the majority of her students are still sticking with the project.  

Julie also told me that she initiated a project for her kids to read actual books.  Not books on computer, I-Pad, Kindle, Nook, etc, but the actual printed page type books.  Why?  Because she wants her children to have the actual hands on experience of reading and writing.  

I only wish her children, and the rest of the GenX or younger generation can experience what what I did when I had to do research.  I spent all day in the library closeted with the Encyclopedia Britannica, the dreaded “card file or cataloge”, cruised the aisles looking for books, and harassed the Librarian.  Now that was what we called research and studying!

By the way, Julie keeps her own “skills up” by reading at least two (paper) books a month and keeping a journal (yes, an old fashioned paper one).  We both had a good laugh because we are both the same age and are thus both Old School, so we roll like that. . . . .

In conclusion, I totally agree with what Julie is doing.  It seems that with the onset of each electronic devise, we lose another important part of our culture.  And if we are not careful to guard against one loss, all will be lost, and become irretrievable.   


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