Unquestioned answers

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We live in an age where we do not struggle with

Unanswered questions but rather the issue is

                                       Unquestioned answers.

We get bombarded with answers all day long through flashes on our iphones, Facebook pages, twitters, and computer screens.

Flashes, flashing, lights, camera, action.

But what happens when that all stops.  And we can slow down enough to question these answers. Turn them upside down and shake them around and see what comes out.

Perhaps that is exactly what the folks in the Silicon Valley at a very spendy private school have done and the result: a computer free school.  Top execs in HP, Dell, Google are sending their kids to computer free schools.  Crazy.

Brilliant.

Consider Power Point. Powerpoint was created, after all, as an easy tool for us adults to be able to learn easily and make our presentations a little niftier.  Do we have to spend our valuable elementary education minutes and days clicking around in Power point to pick our favorite transition effect or might more creativity be unleashed if we put a group of students together and made them become their own Power point, computer free presentation.  Afterall, who is the real creative power behind a slick Power Point presentation?  Yep – the creative geniuses behind the creation of the program.

Instead of computers this Silicon Valley school has paper, crayons, yarn, crochet needles, paint, blocks, and endless possibilities.

I love it.

I probably love it because it brings me back to the simplicity of the trail where toys are formed from acorns that get fashioned together to make an acorn squirrel, or twigs become the building blocks for a log cabin, or time is spent just watching clouds ebb and swirl to form characters in a story painted in the sky.

So today I am questioning the answer that was given to me by the technology industry that kids need technology.  There’s time and place for it, yes, but when their minds are craving a 3D experience and their hands were created to touch, feel and make things, how much 2D screen time we put our kids in front of is a great answer to question.

Excerpt from my upcoming book: Living Without Walls

When Cade would recount his favorite moments from his 215 mile trek, without missing a beat, he’d say, “Making my own fishing pole out of a willow twig,” adding with a huge smile, “and it worked!  I caught fish with it!”

cade fishing

I’ve never seen him beam with such a blinding glow from spending time in front of a screen.  Frank Wilson, professor of neurology at the Stanford University School of Medicine concurs, “We’ve been sold a bill of goods – especially  parents-about how valuable computer-based experience is.  We are creatures identified by what we do with our hands.” Richard Louv adds, “Much of our learning comes from doing, from making, from feeling with our  hands, and though many would like to believe otherwise, the world is not entirely available from a keyboard.” 39B

Louv underscores this point as he expands on the real-world effects of a generation that is using their hands less: “Instructors in medical schools find it increasingly difficult to teach how the heart works as a pump as [Wilson] says, ‘because these students have so little real-world experience; they’ve never siphoned anything, never fixed a car, never worked on a fuel pump, may not even have hooked up a garden hose.  For a whole generation of kids, direct experiences in the backyard, in the tool shed, in the fields and woods, has been replaced by indirect learning, through machines.  These young people are smart, they grew up with computers, they were supposed to be superior – but now we know that something’s missing.” 39C

Ankle deep, our little fisherman followed by his adoring sister, ventured into the river to snag a fish.  Within ten minutes, to our surprise, his homemade pole was bobbing with a 6” Golden Trout.  Cheers echoed off the canyon walls.  He caught one more fish that night and went to bed beaming.

The why just embedded deeper into one 11-year-old boys heart.

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