Attitude is everything…or so I’ve heard it said. I certainly agree that one’s attitude flavors events positively or negatively – much like salt flavors food. The media has played a significant role in shaping the general attitudes of Americans. In fact, the different decades of offspring now have names describing their attitudes. During my late teens, we had the flower children; today, we have the “me” generation.
My church has taught me to see the difference between “joy” and “happiness,” quoting scriptures that teach that joy is lasting in spite of circumstances, while happiness depends upon the current happenings. I do know that as I age, I find more joy in my life as I spend more time concerned with relationships rather than pursuing things.
I remember training teachers in workshops and telling them that little children don’t come to school wanting to fail. Yet, during my career I’ve met many students who seem to be bent on following such a self-destructive path. Why? The answer to that question is certainly elusive. Perhaps it is that they have no self-control.
My husband, Jim, who is trained in clinical hypnosis, recently coined a new phrase: “digital hypnosis” to describe the tech experience in which today’s children indulge themselves. Everything is fast-paced, short-term experiencing- without much transfer into long term memory. (At least that’s “my” understanding of what Jim means.)
The human brain can remember seven (plus or minus two) bits of information. Thus, we group bits of information for easy transfer into long term memory. For example, we do this to phone numbers, social security numbers, etc. Technology is on a “J” curve – expanding experiences at exponential rates. Thus, children say that they’ve experienced many things (by way of technology), but they haven’t really experienced the event with all of their senses. Yes, I am aware of current research which is seeking to provide these sensual experiences along with the audio and visual experience. Perhaps the number of video excursions available to our children is one reason so many say they are now “bored” and have nothing to do.
My attitude, as a WWII baby, has been to drag my feet on technology breakthroughs. I have seventeen-year-old computers which still work fine for me. (I do have a Mac Book, too!) But I must change my attitude in order to be “relevant” to my students who bring a new world into my first grade classroom. This fact was driven home last week when I sought to show my students a science video about rocks and minerals. As the video began, one student spoke out to the others who were in agreement: “Oh, this is computer-generated animation with voice-over in some places.” As for me, I just wanted to introduce them to the rock cycle in nature!