This morning, the grade 9s presented a fascinating assembly showcasing different countries, cultures, religions and wonders of the world. The 9s were all dressed in different ethnic outfits, and students from every grade presented information about their own global education projects, such as Elliot’s project on Russia and Leora’s comparative religion project on Catharism. Nel performed “Hallelujah” by Leonard Coehen on her guitar, which was beautiful and, naturally, brought tears to my eyes. The 9s asked me to contribute “something about the world”, so I decided to talk about how the world is getting smaller, that although all this connectivity is a wonderful thing, there are many significant implications (for children, adults and educators alike).
Just as a side note: the “iGeneration” (children of the generation x-ers that were born between ’65 and ’79) are defined by their technology and media use, their love of electronic communication, and their need to multitask. They send and receive an average of 3,339 texts every month, and spend an average of 7 hours per day with digital media and some sort of screen. This generation’s WWW isn’t “world wide web”, it’s “whatever, whenever, wherever”. This has challenging implications for educators who need to get plugged in if they (we) want any hope of engaging our children successfully.
This morning I read an excerpt from William Power’s Hamlet’s Blackberry in which he states that the most profound sacrifice we’ve made to the ever expanding landscape of technology is DEPTH. The following is an amalgamated excerpt from his book:
We live in a world where everyone is connected to everyone else all of the time. We’re not literally in a room that’s floated away from the earth, but we’re definitely in a new place, and it’s technology that has brought us here. Our room is the digital space, and we tap each other through our connected screens. Today we’re just a few taps away from millions of other people, from endless information and stimulation. Family and friends, work and play, news and ideas – sometimes it seems like everything we care about has moved to the digital room. So we spend our days there living in this new ultra-connected way. We’ve been at it for a decade now and its been thrilling and rewarding in many ways. When the whole world is within easy reach, there’s no end of things to see and do. Sometimes it feels like a kind of paradise.
However, there is a big asterix to life in this amazing place. We’ve been doing our best to ignore it but it won’t go away. It comes down to this: we’re much busier. Much, much busier. It’s a lot of work managing all this connectedness. The emails, texts and voicemails; the pokes, prods and tweets; the alerts and comments; the links, tags and posts; the photos and videos; the blogs and vlogs; the searches, uploads, downloads, files, and folders; feeds and filters; walls and widgets; tags and clouds; the usernames, passcodes and access fees; pop ups and banners; ringtones and vibrations; that’s just a small sample of what we have to navigate each day in the room. By the time you’ve listened to this there will be all new ways of connecting that are all the rage.
We’re losing something of great value, a way of thinking and moving through time that can be summed up in a single word: depth. Depth of thought and feeling, depth in our relationships, our work, and everything we do. Since depth is what makes life fulfilling and meaningful, it’s astounding that we’re allowing this to happen.
But can we leave? It’s nice to imagine that there’s a door somewhere and all you have to do is step through it to be in a different place. A connected place where time isn’t so fugitive and the mind can slow down and be itself again. If someone knew that place existed, and he knew the way there, would you follow him?
Interim Head of School