I am most definitely not technophobic and would seriously would find it very difficult to function without my mobile-phone, tablet and laptop. I need to keep in contact with family, friends and the people that I work for, mainly because there are hundreds of miles between us. To do this I communicate through text, emails and social networking sites as well as talk on the phone or face to face meetings. Now what has this got to do with a blog on education you may ask! Read on.
Being a diligent human who is owned by Dog (yes you read correctly), who has a very strict timetable regarding his daily walks. He enjoys meeting some of his doggy friends on our route and generally making new friends. It is all timed to perfection. Again you may be asking what has dog walking, education and technical communications systems got in common?
When its just me and the dog walking, I enjoy the ‘me’ time. I am not writing, not typing, just clearing my head and perhaps getting a bit of inspiration if I am stuck on a project. I also aim to look at my surroundings with new ‘eyes; every day. Even a quick trip to the shops can involve a new experience. Look for the unusual or the different.
The reason why I am on my soap box this week is that over the weekend Dog and I went for a walk. On our way to his favourite field we passed two families with small children. The children were on their scooters or bicycles and they were having a great time stopping every few metres to pick out some highlight that warranted closer inspection or observation. I noticed this because I have a dog that has to stop a lot – mainly because he ‘reads’ smells like humans read newspapers. So what was the problem with the scene?
The parents that were with the children, were not looking at their children or the treasures they had found, they were busy watching/reading/writing on their iphones? This observed behaviour is not a one off incident, it is seen everywhere, in the shops walking down the street or in a café. Admittedly a lot of us will put our shopping list in the phone and walk around pushing the trolley with one hand and the phone in our other hand (Guilty m’lord).
There are two major problems with this behaviour. One is that it gives the wrong message to children, it allows them to believe that it is OK to not verbally communicate with the people they as with as they are not important enough. The second major problem is that time spent walking around texting, messaging on social media etc. means that there is a lack of awareness of their surroundings. It means that they are still in the same comfort zone they were in at home. They lack the alertness that is needed in public places, to avoid being a victim of injury or crime. Surely, part of education is about encouraging and awareness of the environment that we are in at any given time, there does not necessarily need to be anything sinister. Education is about all forms of communication so let’s make a conscious effort to communicate with the people that we are with. (But we should also consider that some people find face to face communications difficult and are more successful at communicating with other people through technology).