I walked into the junior high classroom this morning, and it was chatty as normal, similar to the beginning of any class. It’s a very open environment, and the culture of the students says, “this is our space“.
Students were discussing the latest news in spirit activities, while others were trying to decide if lunch was going to be edible. Picking up on that conversation, that gave me the heads up that I better head across the street during my free hour and grab some food. I’ve eaten the food at all the schools, and I’m not a fan. I know the lunch people do the best they can, but…..
While waiting for the class to settle down, I notice there is one major difference that is genuinely unique at the junior high level compared to the high school. Students are not hunched over, looking into their cell phones . I know they have them somewhere. But I don’t even see them during recess, or lunch hour, or in the halls – nada, zip. I like to call this age group, the pre-selfie era – Junior High.
This is the Pre-Selfie Era
While I can’t speak for other school districts, I can for my own. It’s refreshing to know your students are engaging with you, and the message is getting across to them. Not having a cell phone on your person may sound archaic to some. But growing up without one was a far better world to have been in.
Before I continue, I just want to stress that I’m not looking to verbally beat up on the high school environment, teachers or students. I actually do have to give kudo’s to all those teachers at my local high school. During testing last week, I walked past a number of classrooms and quietly observed the back roll of each room. While I did spot a few students with their cell phones conveniently concealed – for the most part their classroom environments were all “engaged”.
ENTER THE NEW MILLENNIALS
How did the new millennials arrive at where they are today?
What individual traits do millennials all have? Technology is one trait that most of them posse, and that is THE big one. But at what age do new millennials come out of their social shell’s? When does technology become a changing force, and who is guiding that change?
Communication and collaboration in the classroom mean a lot to both students and teachers. If you lose those valuable tool, you could lose a whole generation.
Dumbing down a whole generation in the Selfie Era
There is software available that can block out all cell phone usage inside of a school. I’ve walked into those zones before.
Egad! So this is what it feels like to lose all communication to the outside world.
Some people have a real addiction to high stress (drama), and a cell phone can really feed into that addiction. While I am not a millennial, I was technologically inspired, starting in the early 80’s. I guess I am one of those types, like a millennial – but not a millennial. You know the kind, a type A, workaholic, social introvert. WAIT! No, not me…
It almost sounds like 8th grade was the turning point, even for me. Landlines were being replaced with wireless phones, and all communication was accelerating. Computers were becoming the norm in every school, and inside most homes.
It’s 8th Grade All Over Again
In 2016, 8th grade students are very much coming into their own little worlds. Once they transfer to 9th grade, that little world can be rewarded through the socially acceptable right of passage known as – learning the selfie rules.
At least on a superficial scale, learning the selfie rules has its rewards. Students quickly learn that selfies and student group shots during class have their social rewards. The reward is not academical I assure you. But it is rewarding on the social scale, and as a narcissistic pacifier to those who may struggle already with self-esteem issues.
If you are on all the right social applications on your computer/phone, and you have a big enough friends list – then you stand a better chance of fitting in with the selfie crowd. Where you fit in, and how you are perceived by your peers, soon becomes part of your online virtual reality trip. I use the word trip, because it is a trip. Coming off of that trip – that is not fun. The landing is often hard and punishing.
There is a little light at the end of the tunnel. Junior High reigns supreme when it comes to still having teachable moments that are in abundance. At the high school level those teachable moments are being attacked daily by that 3 x 4 piece of shiny technology, vying for our students attention.
PRE-SELFIES IN HIDING
Standing outside the junior high during after school duties, I noted 3 out of 10 girls that popped out a cell phone, and nearly 1 out of 10 boys. At least those were the ones not afraid to use their phones on campus, even after school was out.
I’ve had teachers vocally express their feelings about cell phones.
- Was the lesson plan worth it?
- Did I get through to my students?
- It is defeating when you have invested so much of your time and energy to be put on what amounts to, a commercial break for a classroom selfie.
So what are we doing wrong at the high school and junior high levels? How did all these narcissistic selfie robots amass in such great numbers – almost overnight? Parents. Yes, parents are mostly to blame.
I’ve been one of those Parents, so don’t go off on me too hard just yet. I have been one of the best helicopter parents of my generation. At least until the powers that be discovered where my landing pad was located, and turned the lights out on me.
It started in junior high. I didn’t want anyone telling MY children they were insufficient in anything. By the time by last child had gotten to the junior high level, she reigned supreme. She had the grades, the looks, and the talent to do it all – and she did. She wasn’t denied anything. But, I wouldn’t allow her to be denied anything. Then I did the thing, that I as a teacher complain about the most. I bought her a cell phone, and I got sucked into the millennial whine.
I bought her a cell phone
WHAT I LEARNED
- It’s $25 at the middle school to get your cell phone back, if you take it out where others can see it.
- The first selfie with friend in their bikini’s posted on Facebook, and that friend was gone (I was stupid and let her keep the phone).
- Competing with the cute boy from school who also had a cell phone. Family time became a chore, and grounding from the phone brought even more issues (Drama! I hate you – you are ruining my life!) .
- By college she allowed her boyfriend (thank God he is gone) to rack up nearly $400 in cell phone charges. Plus he wrecked two of her cars and …. let’s just say he is gone.
The excuses that WE all make regarding our children having a cell phone is:
I want them to get a hold of me if they need me.
- They are in a classroom filled with 30 other cell phones.
- Plus the teacher has a cell phone, and a landline on her desk. I think we have the “get a hold of me” problem solved.
Parents have become lazy.
Parents rely on the cell phone to baby sit their kids. A wonderful suggestion is to get in your car, drive across town and find out for yourself what your kids are doing.
- A phone call may be a temporary pacifier, but its virtual reality even to adults. Kids still want their parents to care.
- Some even think that the more expensive the phone, the more protected the kid will be. A $600 phone isn’t my idea of protection.
The kid with the $600 iPhone.
The amount of kids that walk around with electronics that even I couldn’t afford, makes me worry. How hard of a landing are these kids going to take when big daddy or mommy bucks, cuts them off?
Virtual reality if used properly can be a great learning tool. But with cell phones, the verdict is still out. At least until some genius can develop specific games that actually help teach the academic core to our teenage students.
Millennials and Their Kids, that is what I should of called this article. But as I dug deeper into some of the issues, it really is a baby boomer issue. We allowed our millennials to get away just about everything.
I reflect on this paper, and I wonder if my youngest (now 27) will come at me to lock horns and state the obvious. Why I you mention at length in this short article the crutches of the argument mother? Do you know the rules? Are the rules only being taught to the students by students, or are manufacturers of technology writing the rules? Are the parents and teachers being left out on purpose? Parents and teachers, do you know the selfie rules?
And for God’s sake mom, where did you dig up that old photo (she secretly loves the shot)?
Designing in the Digital Age
#millennial #selfie #education #classroom #teenager