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Engaging Youth, Education, Tech and Character

This is what I call an In My Humble Opinion but with Hard Earned Experience post.  Over the last few days, I found myself in several conversations around “kids and tech in the classroom”.  And I get it.  Technology and social media have created a force within the classroom that begs the question of whether or not we should allow it.  I get it.  Still, I believe the question is not whether or not.  It is how we will engage it.

Phone privileges in the classroom remains a big question for those of us in education and/or youth engagement in general.  But, I find we often unconsciously are referring to phone privileges as just that… the use of smart phones as communication devices solely; often forgetting the capacity now in our hands.  As a late boomer, growing up in the 60’s and 70s’s, I had no such device.  To hear many an educator (understandably so) wishing for those days too often ignores the fact that even though I had no phone… I did have a note book, pencil and vivid imagination.  If I was not engaged in the classroom, I could develop my own distractions.

So, let’s consider the smart phone.  I personally prefer to reference it as the palm computer.  Yes, it allows for texting and other social media communications and we must be aware of that.  It also allows for search engines and the potential for research and the learning skills that can come from that.  In a Business Ethics course I was teaching a couple of years back, I used the tech in the room to have students find the song Some Nights by FunThis song could have worked too.  Or this one.  Or many others.  Or movie clips.  We had been looking at war and violence as an opportunity to explore perspectives.  I had them them break into groups and play the song; then discuss the lyrics and its message.  Then, we broadened the discussion to the whole class, engaging exchange and cultivating confidence to share views.

We could have examined poverty, trustworthiness or justice.  We could have examined any number of issues related to school, work, family or community.  The potential is unlimited with TED and You Tube and so much more… to advance the quality of learning and education all around.  You can even have fun exploring examples of creativity.  Or creativity and inspiration in advertising.  Instead of “Who has heard of …?”, what if we said, “Google this for me.” and then enlisted what we have individually and collectively learned in an active way… into a broader discussion in the classroom?  The role of the educator lessens as a presenter and widens as a wise facilitator.

So…

  • What virtues or strengths of character would that require in us as educators or youth leaders?
  • What virtues or strengths of character would that help develop in our youth, who are already considerably tech savvy?

I suggest it demands of us creativity, flexibility, purposefulness and confidence.  And more.  How about you?  What would it demand of you to advance such an approach to technology?  How could you practice those?

I suggest it cultivates in our youth perceptiveness to see a greater capacity to the technology… cooperation in actively learning together… and genuine confidence in what their capacity truly is with such tech in hand.  They advance in resourcefulness.  What strengths do you see such an approach developing for the youth you engage?

On either side, it will require and advance the virtues of discipline, discretion and discernment.  Technology has a way of demanding that from us at any age, whether we realize it or not.

Before I close out, for now, on this idea… I love this thought from this post I stumbled upon this morning… on productivity.

Productivity, put simply, is the name we give our attempts to figure out the best uses of our energy, intellect, and time as we try to seize the most meaningful rewards with the least wasted effort. It’s a process of learning how to succeed with less stress and struggle. It’s about getting things done without sacrificing everything we care about along the way.

Our challenge in working with youth is to help them and ourselves be the most productive we can be at school, work, family and community.  Productivity widely defined as getting things done without sacrificing everything we care about along the way.   Character in combination with technology can advance the healthiest forms of productivity for real balance in life.

Now, imagine that combination of skill (character and technology) in school, at work and throughout community.  Therein lies amazing resourcefulness.

Peace, passion and prosperity.

Barry Lewis Green, aka The Unity Guy™

PS

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