Technology . . . like opening a bag of potato chips, I find myself unable to stop after eating just one. My students cram them in their mouths so fast they swallow without chewing, all the while reaching for another handful.
You know how it is. You don’t even think you’re hungry. You weren’t even thinking about eating potato chips.
But. Then. You see the bag. Maybe you don’t even open the bag. Maybe someone else opens the bag. “Want one?” they ask. You don’t want to be rude. “Sure, why not?” you respond.
And that, my friends, is all it takes.
Soon you are up to your elbows. Greasy fingers. Crumbs on your shirt. Truthfully, the only thing to do at that point is wipe your fingers on your jeans and swipe your screen, looking for the next perfectly shaped chip . . . just one more . . . three at the most . . . OK, just a handful . . .
I am of the PONG generation. Rotary dial phones. When Pac-Man and Asteroids were the arcade games of choice . . . because they were the ONLY choices. Childcraft Encyclopedias with actual pages to turn. I was there at the beginning of remote controls for televisions. I witnessed the arrival of the automatic door at the local grocery store. “Be careful,” my mom warned, “It could cut your arm off!” Typing class in high school with White-Out . . . ASDFJKL;
We didn’t know what we didn’t have.
It all changed, didn’t it? In the blink of an eye. PONG got put away on a shelf in the garage along with my Mattel handheld basketball game. And, once you open that bag of chips . . .
Computers, cell phones, gaming systems, digital this, gigabyte of that, social media, and apps, apps, apps. It’s like living in an episode of that future-themed cartoon “The Jetsons”. I am often confused. I don’t know this new language. But I hold tight to the chip bag before me. And the more I eat . . . the more I get! OK, so maybe I don’t GET IT, but I can keep up with the conversation . . . most of the time.
You see, I teach. I teach junior high students. I didn’t (and don’t) have the option of saying, “I’m just not into technology.” I had to get it. I have to get it. Because THEY have to get it. Things aren’t changing back. If I want my students to be prepared for their future – heck, for their present – I’ve got to help them. That’s my job. That’s what I do. Students need to be guided through this technological world in which they live. Notice I say guided, not necessarily taught. Any and all of my junior high students can teach me under the table when it comes to technology…and they know it.
BUT. They still need guidance. They need to be taught about choices and the impact of their digital footprints. They need to consider the implications of their words and pictures and videos. They need to be taught to question the information they can access so easily and know how to check its validity. Back to the potato chips…they need someone telling them to read the label…someone telling them they don’t have to eat the whole bag TODAY . . . someone telling them that there are some bags of chips that they should leave sealed.
For that, they need me.
You see, if not me . . . if not their teacher . . . then who? Parents? Church? Girl Scouts of America? Nope. Should it have to be me? Not at all. But it is me, nonetheless. Little Susie needs to know that the racy pictures she sends to her boyfriend are never going to be completely deleted and can be considered child porn. Little Stuart needs to know that the comments he puts online using the “f” word along with all the other high-impact profanity he knows will be looked at by admissions offices at colleges along with the photos of him and his buddies passed out amidst a sea of empty beer cans that his prospective employers will one day view.
So, I embrace that bag of potato chips . . . for the sole purpose of helping my students . . . yeah, right. If you know me, you know I love a bag of chips. And, if my love of chips can be combined with helping my students, I am in fried potato heaven.
Go on. Open the bag. Bet you can’t eat just one.