A recent article on The Verge talked about the Influence that Social Media and SmartPhones have had on teen-oriented dramas. One line, in the article, got me thinking though; “Senior Graduation is a mass vacuuming of people from your life.” This very true. When I think back 30+ years since I graduated high school, the days and weeks after I left were nearly void of anyone and anything that were connected with my high school days. Granted, I had joined the Army and most of my civilian life pretty much disappeared, but even in the years after I left school, there was very little contact with even the people I had spent anywhere from 4 to 12 years seeing virtually every day.
This wasn’t a bad thing, however. Many of the things that influenced me in High School would never have served me well in the real world and I expect that the same could be said of students today, save for one small problem: Social Media.
Today’s High School Graduate will walk away from the school for the last time and still never be far from it because the people and events that formed those years are forever connected online. Things you did and said, good and bad, will forever be in the Social Media space. Friends, good and bad, remain connected and continue to be part of your life. In essence, you never really “move on” to the adventure that the post-high school years is supposed to be unless you do one very important thing. Purge your Profiles.
Find the Value
It doesn’t have to be the moment you walk off the stage with your diploma. After all, you have a final summer to enjoy, before the world of post-secondary education or full-time employment consumes your life. After that, however, it is time to take a really close look at your content over the years and the people you are connected to. Is this content valuable to you in the REAL world? Are these people that I connected with outside of school and is there value in remaining connected now that school is done. Will we stay connected when we go our separate ways and into our new lives. If you are going to the same schools or heading to the same town/city, then, of course, you will probably remain connected. If the person has been your best friend for all of your school or high school years, then you will probably remain so for years to come. But, those people that were intermittently in and out of your life, for any number of reasons, those are the people that you need to take a closer look at.
A Lesson Learned for the Future
The nice thing about leaving High School is that you leave a lot, if not all, of the High School drama behind. If you unfriend someone on Facebook or stop following them on Instagram, you don’t have to face them the next day in the hallway and deal with the anger or sadness of the disconnect. It should be an exercise in freedom, releasing yourself from the old and preparing yourself for the new. The number of friends you have meant something in High School, but means little in the adult world. Better to have 50 people that add something of value to your life than 500 that do not. As you move forward into adulthood, you want to share your successes and failures with people that will support you, rather than being indifferent or malicious. It is also a good habit to get used to, as you grow older. A purge of your Social space (including the closing and deletion of accounts that you no longer need or use), is good for the soul.
The big vacuum is coming, in the latter part of June, but keep that vacuum handy, because you are going to need it in the years to come.
For the past 35 or so years, teachers have been plagued by electronic distractions in the classroom. Whether it was the electronic baseball and the electronic football of the early 80s, the Sega Game Gear and Nintendo Gameboy of the 90s, or the Sony PSP of the new Millennium, there is likely not to be a single teacher who has not had to deal with digital device disrupting the classroom. Today it is the Battle of the Smartphone, with teachers and administrators at loggerheads with Students and Parents about having the devices with them, all the time. To many, they are another digital distraction in a long line of distractions. To others, they are an untapped resource that should be embraced, rather than shunned. I count myself amongst the latter.
The biggest reason these devices are a problem is that they have only been used in the ways that they (the students) know how to use them; as a communication and entertainment. They haven’t ever been shown how to use them as a time management tool, a notebook, a reference library, a memo pad, a reminder calendar and means of recording a class for future review……all in the palm of their hands. With school budgets stretched to the limits, these students are bringing the very technology they need to excel in school, from their homes, at no cost to the education system. Why not use that to their advantage?
Applications like Evernote allow students to keep a virtual binder of notes,
reference material, and content that is easily searched and managed. Access to books and reference material through local and regional libraries that are online. Scanners to capture written notes or pages of text and images. Word Processor and Spreadsheet apps like MS Word and Excel. All types of calculators, from standard to scientific and graphing. The video camera can be used to record classes for future reference. Even the Social Media tools they use on a daily basis can be turned to something of value in education. That is where the teachers come in.
In order for any of this to work, there must be a fundamental shift in how teachers and schools approach technology in the classroom. Some educators are already adopting today’s technology by teaching themselves, while others remain in the “old school” chalkboards and textbooks. An effort must be made to educate the educators and show them the advantages that can be had with the use of these devices. This would also be the time to develop a policy that administrators, teachers, parents, and students could all follow and learn from, one that is far more oriented toward the adopting of tech in the classroom, rather than hiding from it.
The fact of the matter is that technology is not going to go away. It is going to continue to advance and offer our youth even more distraction if we do not show them all that is possible with the tech that they use every day. In the end, we will be preparing them for the future of the world outside of the classroom, where mobile tech is an important part of the today’s workforce.