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A TED talk given by Sherry Turkle.

This one hit home for me; as a teacher, within my family, and for myself.

I see the anxiety, stress, tiredness and lack of concentration caused by incessant technology use in the students that I teach when they take a seat in my classes. They are unsettled and antsy; they go straight to their laptops before they’ve registered what lesson they are in…and I often think I would so much rather tell them off for chatting because that means they’re connecting with each other.

My family is lucky, and I am lucky because of it. I am first a first generation Chinese-Vietnamese Australian; my parents were migrants who arrived in Australia in 1977 to build a new life. We have dragged each other through the learning of technology, and it is a point of connection as it should be, rather than a crutch or bandaid.

But there are days when I’m overwhelmed by teaching, personal + professional relationships, expectations, and life, that I can feel the cross-over from healthy appreciation of technology to numbing. It’s exactly the same fear I have for my students, and family members of my generation or younger. Again, I feel that I am lucky in that I have many interests + responsibilities that pull me up out of the “funk”, and help me shake it…having to step into a different role, be it daughter, sister, teacher, mentor, friend, quasi-Mum is a powerful anecdote for being stuck, and somehow, time moves, and I can feel the change and the issue changes momentum. It heals, I find a solution, I have had a chance to play with it from every angle and decide how I will tackle it.

I am also lucky in that while I was going through school, both as a primary-aged student and as a teenager, I had teachers + mentors who taught me the skills of problem-solving, emotional intelligence, and leaning into solitude + discomfort. I can see the skills are strong now in my every day life, and in how I interact in my personal + professional relationships. I am also lucky in that technology did not become a culture until I was in my mid-2os. But on those days where I am exhausted, and I’m mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, looking for something that might shake me out of my exhaustion or discomfort, it takes a Herculean effort to acknowledge what is happening.

But what about the generation of students + young people coming through now?

As a teacher, this hits me hard and forces me to consider how I care for them, how I develop skills of tolerance, interaction, problem-solving, emotional intelligence, persistence, solitude, and courage in them, while teaching them on a daily basis.

The 2 quotes which stuck with me:

“Cultivate our tolerance for solitude; it is in solitude that we find ourselves.”

“It is when we stumble or lose ourselves that we reveal ourselves to each other.”

May we always have the courage to be vulnerable in forging connections, face to face, imperfectly, and wondrously.

This talk definitely made me think.

connected, but alone

January 1, 2016 , , , , , , ,

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