It’s a cliche to say that times change. But as a mother, and a teacher, it’s all-so-evident.
Take for example my students’ last project. They were to complete a book report after reading a biography. (I allowed them to read about anyone, so subjects ranged from Robert E. Lee to Madonna to Michael Jordan to Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen). The project required my students to complete their book report on a cereal box. The inspiration behind my non-traditional book report was a Wheaties box.
First red flag, my students didn’t know what a Wheaties box was. They didn’t understand that it’s really a huge honor for an individual to be featured on a cereal box. And that whole discussion made me feel quite old (I’m 35, my students are 9 and 10).
Fast-forward several weeks. My students eagerly brought their cereal box book reports to class, prepared to share their work. One of the requirements was for students to also bring their books to class. That’s when I was handed notes. “Dear Mrs. Kennar, We read the book on our iPad so if my daughter does need to bring the iPad to class, please let me know.” Another note told me that their son had also read his book on the iPad and the iPad was in his backpack. In addition to everything else I worry about on a daily basis, I was now worried that one of my students had a $600 technological device just as casually stashed in his backpack as his turkey sandwich might be.
The bottom line is all 32 students completed their assignments. All 32 students created cereal box book reports (although, admittedly, some more well-written than others). I am glad that my students read books. I am glad that most of my students enjoyed the creative freedom this project provided them.
However, this whole book-on-the-iPad thing is really disturbing me. Yes, it’s convenient, but with this convenience we’re forgetting to teach our children to wait. Back when I was a fourth grader, I would have needed my mom to drive me to the public library. I would have to walk around and look at my book choices. I would have had to wait in line to check out my desired book. I would have needed to keep track of the book’s due date so I wouldn’t accrue late fines.
Is it really in our best interest to make everything so easy, so quick, so instantaneous for our children? I don’t think so. Convenience is fantastic - but more so for adults. Our lives are fuller, busier, we’ve earned some short-cuts. I think our kids need to learn the beauty and grace involved with waiting. Our children need to learn that most worthwhile things in life don’t happen right away, but they do happen.
And some people, like me, smile when I’m called “old-fashioned.” It’s not such a bad thing.