Growing up in Iowa gave me a unique perspective on life and allowed me to learn much more than “Reading, Writing and Arithmetic.” Let me start by saying I loved school, and still do. Which I guess is appropriate given I work for an education company. However, much of what I learned in my younger years was learned outside the classroom…and by outside I really do mean OUTside. It’s a shame these days that kids don’t spend more time exploring the great outdoors. As a parent, I generally have to “force” the boys to spend a few hours running around outside. Granted, I was fortunate enough to live out of town so I had room to roam and they don’t have such a luxury, but, I still wish they appreciated these years of firefly chasing a little more.
I am reminded of all the things I learned in the great outdoors with my family. Virtually every weekend in the summer and fall my parents packed us in the car and took us for another adventure – the Maquoketa Caves, House on the Rock, Backbone State Park – just to name a few. It was in those places I learned about architecture, trees, surviving in the wilderness and most of all, to appreciate the small things in life – such as spending the day as a family. Looking back on it now I’m so thankful for those experiences. I’m sure at the time I didn’t convey that very well…so THANK YOU MOM AND DAD!!
So, how did we get here? How did we get to the point where our kids are engrossed in their iPads, iPods, Androids, Kindle Fire’s, video games, and social media? Can we ever get back to where we were 15 years ago? I hesitate to say it…but I really don’t know. It’s clear to me that technology is a “necessary evil” in virtually every part of our lives. It’s important in education also, especially because recent studies have said that thirty-eight percent of children under two have used a tablet, smartphone, or other mobile devices. Does this mean we HAVE to use some type of awesome, high-tech gadget in the classroom? I don’t think so…but I think we do have to find ways to let students INTERACT nearly all of the time to enhance their learning.
I know it lands on me, as a parent, to make the decision to leave the electronics at home and go on a real adventure. Get dirty, get sweaty, get lost…and find out what life is all about. I’m on my devices as much as the kids are – they call me “hashtag” behind my back – the difference is I remember what it was like to grow up without those things…and it’s killing me that these kids never will. Real education, real learning, happens when you are out of your comfort zone, doing something that scares the living daylights out of you. For my kids, that would probably be spending the day without their electronics at a state park, hiking up a trail to see the view from the top…then making them pose for another Instagram photo.