Saturday, September 16, 2006

Progress Marches On

For years I've been hearing people say, "Kids today don't know how to read because all they do is watch TV." I doubted that because I've been watching it ever since I could remember, and it never stopped me from reading.

Later, with the ubiquitous calculator rearing its ugly head, people started saying,"Kids today can't add or subtract because all they do is use calculators."

I always thought such people were being ridiculous. Kids have always been pains in the neck, and they hardly ever do what you want them to without a good fight. Read Tom Jones. They weren't any better then. It's their job to be pains in the neck, when you get right down to it.

However, despite my best arguments to the contrary, I'm coming around to the point of view of the Luddites. Wait a minute, I can explain.

My MO for getting new classes into shape is frequent phone calls. I have a particularly rough afternoon class, and I've been putting a lot of time into it. Anyone who's serious about calling homes knows kids whose homes you want to call are fond of providing incorrect numbers.

Kids will stand there, in front of God and everybody, and loudly declare they just moved yesterday, they only have a cell phone, and give you a multitude of even less plausible reasons they don't know their own phone numbers. Much of the time it's total crap.

But yesterday, I met a kid in the hall who'd cut my class three times in the last four days. I told him the phone number he'd given me was no good. He insisted it was, and showed me where it was written in his notebook (He really didn't remember it!). I'd called it twice, though, and told him it was disconnected.

With a knowing look, he pulled out his cell phone to demonstrate that, like all teachers, I was a total idiot. However, his cell phone revealed that he'd copied the number incorrectly.

Incidentally, if you're a teacher looking for more genuine numbers, the first place to check is the medical office, where something better usually turns up, even if it's an emergency number for an aunt or uncle. This year, I'm becoming very well-acquainted with the medical office personnel, and I'm fortunate they're so friendly and helpful.

Here's my point, though: Kids today don't even know their own phone numbers because all they do is use cell phones.
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