Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Things Change

I was talking with my wife about things that have changed over the years. Often times a conversation like that focuses on the things that have changed for the worse. (I will spare you the examples.) In this conversation we focused on what now seem like ridiculous rules or standards that have been replaced with what now seem like obvious common sense practices and guidelines.

Forty years ago we remember playing on school playgrounds with metal monkey bars and falling into gravel if we slipped. Blue jeans with rivets on the pockets (basically, all jeans have rivets on the pockets) were not allowed in school because they scratched the chairs. Belts were required dress code or else you faced discipline. Whole milk was a standard option at lunch.

Toni and I also remember that women had to wear dresses unless the temperature fell below 15 degrees, then they could wear slacks. Even during my first years of teaching the head of the house (a man) would have a different contract and different pay than his wife (a woman). I remember athletes sitting on the bench because their hair was too long. I remember when skipping a water break during practice meant you were tough but lifting weights was bad because it would mess up your jump shot. So, because I wanted to be tough and have a good jump shot I didn't drink water or lift weights. Looking back I now realize I was weak and dehydrated.

In the next few years how will we view our current standards for the management of technology? Our next challenge is how do teachers of my generation teach technology to the students of this generation. I began teaching and coaching using carbon copies and a mimeograph machine. I remember the ease and amazement of using a Xerox copy machine for the first time and thinking of the incredible potential these machines had.

For sure, one class we will never need to teach students is "How to Send a Text Message with a Mobile Phone." In fact, it may not be a matter of teaching technology as much as it is helping make technology available.

My boys at home laugh at my inability to text. They talk about my early days of texting (a month ago) when I did not know how to use the space key and all my messages were some kind of encrypted code. My sons have the ability to text in class with one hand in their pocket while looking at the teacher. I know they do this because they will reply to my text messages any time of day. When will schools embrace cell phones? Should they? I do not know. I will never have to make that decision. But, I will say this: Wouldn't it be less disruptive to the class for the front office to text a student that they want to report to the office than to do an all-call over the intercom system? I don't know if that is a good idea, but I do know it was a good idea to remove the concrete and gravel from under the monkey bars.

Below is a photo of my six sons from five years ago. Today they are a Combat Correspondent in the United States Marines, a certified snow board coach in Colorado, training to be an engineer in the United States Air Force, a senior in high school heading into economics and jazz music, a sophomore in high school and a student in my middle school. The youngest one does not have a cell phone but he does have his own facebook and a large online fan following for movies he and his brother and some friends have made. I have not taught them anything about technology. They laugh at my lack of it and tell me constantly to get a facebook so people know I exist!

Mr. Wiemers

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