From the desk of Tammy Hayes, Middle School Principal:
One of my all-time favorite Disney movies is the classic Parent Trap with Hayley Mills playing a double version of herself as her own twin. The story is enchanting from plot to entertainment as we cheer for them to discover one another, repair their parents relationship, and restore their original family as it should have been. As I think about the title of this wonderful idealistic little movie, I think of how naive their parents were to what those two little minds could construct and devise and manage to pull off in the pursuit of true happiness and the rescue of their own futures.
One piece that jumps out immediately is that kids of this age are actually pretty brilliant. They have been around and heard enough to know what you as a parent fear most, whether it is your child on drugs or being stolen in the middle of the night whilst everyone is quietly sleeping. They know from experience what you really want them to do with their future and they have innocently taken note of when you are and aren’t paying attention. They are savvy! One colleague was trying to explain the concept of “hashtag” to me just today. He quickly replied, “Tammy, your children all know how to use hashtags; they use them all the time on instagram and twitter!” To which I agreed, “Absolutely, my kids know way more than I will ever understand about technology and its jargon; that’s why I’m nervous!”
But, really? Be nervous? I don’t think fear or anxiety is the answer, but I do think returning “savvy” with a healthy amount of awareness and accountability is a must in this technological world that our sweet, ever-so-precious teens are growing up in today! We mustn’t underestimate what they are being exposed to faster than we can say, “hashtag!”
What are some things we should think about? This past week, several leaders from BH attended the CESA Symposium in Frisco, Texas. We listened to the educated elite who lead schools all over our country sound the alarm to consider how technology, though moving rapidly to the front of school priorities, may actually have some effects on learning that we don’t want to give in to or trade down for as we consider one-to-one devices like iPads, iPhones, etcetera. Some learning skills we need to guard in our curriculum are note-taking, listening for understanding, face-to-face communication, and actual exercises to increase the students’ ability to focus on one thing for long periods of time. All of these regular staples in the pedagogy of old, with newer technologies in place for different tools, might be endangered species when it comes to the abilities of the 21st century learner if we don’t pay attention and look ahead to what might be lost. Curt Masters, Headmaster of Brentwood Academy, Brentwood, Tennessee likened the need for us as both educators and parents to think of technology and consider the warning to something like being outside in an area exposed to real danger, but blissfully unaware. We can all think of these types of situations in our youth where someone saw something threatening to us that we could have never have seen without their viewpoint. Though technology is definitely here to stay, it does have implications for all of us and the alarm is one of “pay attention” so that you don’t fall into the trap of not knowing for lack of effort on your part to stay involved as a watchman.
Fearful? Anxious? No, I don’t believe so. Reject technology and its wares? No, I don’t believe so. But, ask questions of our children, randomly take up phones and check text messages, instagram, and gaming choices – Yes, I believe we must! We are the one on the inside for them; we know what to guard them from; we have the view from the top;so to speak, and the mandate from scripture to do so as parents. It is not a right to privacy as some would suggest, but an issue of safety and provision, protecting them from themselves and giving our students the freedom to reject sinful temptations even if they do so only because they know they will be checked on. I believe it is the parent trap of the 21st century, to believe that they will make the right choice every time without accountability and or advisement or to fall prey to believing that if I check on them I am invading their space. Their space is one we have provided and given to them by paying for the phone, the iPad, or the laptop or even allowing it in the first place. Therefore, what would I ever give my own child that I would not make sure is safe for them along the way? They need us to be aware, be informed, and be certain to hold them to that which will ultimately build within them the confidence to make good choices. As educator, I must look ahead and look out for what is at risk with any thing that demands I change or adjust my teaching methods. As parent, I must do the same. It’s not fear; it’s confidence. Confidence that the scripture is true when it says that I will, as a parent, receive the blessing of children who will serve the Lord three generations deep if I will teach and uphold His righteousness and His Word (Ps. 103:17-18). We are paying attention at Brook Hill. We invite you to pay attention too and avoid the parent trap.