I am immersed in technology. Three years ago I left my 8th grade math classroom and took a job as a Teacher on Special Assignment for Instructional Technology. My mind is filled with ideas of when we should and shouldn’t have students learning with or from technology. I often wonder what role technology should play in family life. Are there times when snuggling up with my children and an iPad can feel as intimate as snuggling up with a book? And if it does, is that ok? Frankly I feel guilty even suggesting this.
As parents, we often view technology as the babysitter to calm or silence our kids or a way to get our kids to practice academic things with fewer complaints. And while I most certainly understand its power in these realms, this blog is a place to explore how to use technology with our kids in more intimate ways. How can snuggling up together to watch a short video create the beginning of a conversation that ultimately allows my children to think more deeply about themselves, our family’s values, and their place in this world? My intention is to explore ways to redefine the role of technology in family’s lives. Let me be clear, I am not advocating that you use MORE technology in your home. Friends and colleagues are often surprised to hear how little screen time and technology my sons use in ours. However, I want to provide an alternative way to use it which could even replace ways you currently use it.
I told Egan nothing more than there was a cool invention using a soccer ball that I had learned about. We watched this video late tonight, after school, after swimming lessons, after basketball practice and during his second dinner. I stopped the video a few times to see what he understood, answered his questions about renewable energy and why Africa wasn’t a country. But mostly, we just watched in silence.
As soon as it ended, he asked to watch it again, which we did. And then his imagination took off. He talked about how scared he was last time there was a blackout and how sleeping with the Soccket would help him feel safer at night. He asked if he could be an inventor even though he’s a boy (since the CEO of this company is a woman he assumed only women could be inventors). Digging through his drawer he found his outdoor whistle and pondered whether he could invent a whistle which would generate electricity and excitedly determined that 24 blows of the whistle could generate 24 hours of electricity once his invention was complete. He asked how big 2 billion is (the number of people in the world without reliable power in their homes) and talked about how sad he was that not everyone could read in bed with their parents at night. Eager to know more, we checked out the Uncharted Play web site and watched this video.
Egan loved that he could read the subtitles so we paused after each frame so that he could read them with care. He excitedly wrote the title of video on his independent reading log for his homework tonight. All this conversation, breaking down of stereotypes and thinking from a 4 minute video. My hope is that readers of this blog will show these videos to your own children or use them in your classroom. See where the conversations go, find common themes from week to week. My intention is that having an audience for this blog will push me to continue to find these small gems in the often overwhelming and impersonal world of technology.