"Doing an uncontrolled experiment on your own child is otherwise known as parenting."
I read that on a blog somewhere (sorry to the author, can't remember your name), and it's an apt opening for what I want to talk about this week. What we're doing to our kids.
Now, right up front I need to admit that I've already crossed the threshold into "Old Fogey." But I still love kids in general and my own students (this does not apply to them) especially ... and I worry about all the children in the world. So today's rant is brought to you from a place of concern and compassion.
If you think I'm going to talk about the impacts of the global climate change emergency on the youngest and all future generations, nope. Here's what's on my mind (and weighing heavy on my heart):
I took some students from the local school camping this week. (Long story ... part of their directed independent study on "survival," which they've been studying for weeks now, an hour and a half each Tuesday morning.)
I only had one rule. No technology allowed (you know, iPods, cell phones, etc.). I figured it would help them connect with the natural world.
Turns out they were bored. And boring.
It was a short trip of 24 hours, from noon to noon, with a rugged hike in and out. Aside from the complaints, all these kids could talk about was how much they missed their music and texting their friends. And which friends they'd be texting right now if they could. And how late they stay up texting their friends at night. And which songs they have on their iPods.
Let's go for a hike along the beach! They talked about their technology and how much they missed it.Let's do a scavenger hunt for edible wilds! They talked about their technology and how much they missed it.Let's cook dinner together! They talked about their technology and how much they missed it.Let's make "Secret Santa" gifts from natural objects and exchange them! They talked about their technology and how much they missed it.Let's walk along the ridge to that lookout and catch the view! They talked about their technology and how much they missed it.Let's do a mini-solo. Ha! Then they wouldn't be able to talk with the other campers about their technology and how much they missed it.
They were so bored and boring, I thought I was going to die of boredom. How can kids be so uninteresting — and disinterested — for so long?
What have we done to our kids that they can't live in the here and now? That they can't just "be" in the natural world without an invisible umbilical to their techno gadgets? That these technologies — present or not — disconnect them almost entirely (see comment above re complaints) from the rest of Nature? That they can't be alone even for a few moments (even when they are alone!), revelling in the sea, the birds (eagles, osprey, geese with goslings), the fresh spring greenery?
I came home tired from the fresh air, with sore muscles from the hike, but with a heavy heart. We have placed another wall between kids and their True Mother, and made that wall an addictive one. That means this young generation has even less of a chance of producing those who love the rest of Nature and are willing to work hard to safeguard it.
We are doomed.
p.s. I know, you might be thinking that I could have done a better job of entertaining the kids. Ah, not my job. I was the supervising adult, not a hired clown.