On the Subject of Eggs, Pornos, and Tech Not Replacing Teachers

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 6.13.37 AMMy son is walking around talking to eggs. He takes one from the carton and introduces it to me. “This is my son, Steve. I’m finally a dad.” I tell him to put the egg back.

“It’s my son.”

“It’s not your son…” We argue.

“Kids come from eggs.” I don’t want to discuss this now. I want to bake cookies. I tell him to choose between his son and the cookies. I need the egg. After a heart wrenching moment, he chooses cookies.

“Goodbye, dear son. I love you. I’ll miss you.” He caresses the egg, a tear coming to his little eye. He kisses the egg goodbye.

“It is not your son.” I crack the egg.

He waves a sad little wave as the yolk membrane crushes and the egg blends into the batter. “Take care of yourself in there….”

I feel like a real jerk, making the kid kill his son so we can eat cookies…Is this what every mother chicken and cow feels before humans eat dinner?

No. He will not draw me into his insanity. It’s an egg…I wipe his tear. We make cookies. We eat cookies. A person can really question their sanity raising a six-year old. I start to see, talk to, and put plates out for imaginary friends

He takes another “son” while I’m not looking.

“Put that back before it…”

Splat.

Too late. Eggs are impossible to get off the floor. I’m unhappy. Declan’s devastated. I clean the floor and plan a funeral at the same time–good thing I baked cookies for it.

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 6.12.58 AMOne day, my boiled eggs went missing. “Look, Mom, twins!” I was hungry, but at least boiled eggs don’t splat all over the ground. Turns out, they crumble. “This is Steve’s heart.”

Back to cleaning floors…

I still need to eat so I attempt a frittata . As soon as the carton comes out, there’s Declan, reaching in…

“I’m having another child. I’m a good Dad.” If that were true, Steve wouldn’t be on his fourth life.

“No more children!” I say. “Dinner!” His little lip quivers. He wants to be a dad.

“But eggs are where children come from.” This question’s not new. I’ve answered it–we watched medical videos on YouTube. YouTube is where every parent turns when they don’t want to answer. If I don’t answer, he’ll just ask Siri or Google. He thinks they’re real people. I think they’re jokesters–they sometimes show inappropriate things.

When Declan has something on his mind, he’s all in. He’s focused. He gets the answer. If he’s not interested, there’s nothing I can do to keep him on task. It’s no different in my classroom. We’re so busy standardizing curricula, we don’t see the tree through the forest. Each individual tree is a beautiful thing to behold.

People ask me if technology will replace teachers. No, it won’t. Technology won’t replace teachers because not all teachers have technology that works. Mostly, it’s broken, blocked, and banned. But when it isn’t, kids still need a guide–someone to help process the information. Someone to who will clap, say “great job,” guide them to the next level, and tell them the amazing things they can be.

There are many paths to the top of the mountain. Tech allows kids to meander around looking at the flowers and trees on the way. They’re engaged. They learn. And sometimes parents get a moment of rest.

Screen Shot 2014-01-24 at 6.13.22 AMDeclan still wants eggs. I try something different. Plastic Easter eggs.

“Here’s your egg.” I pick a shiny blue one.

“Thanks, Mom!” He hugs the egg, “I missed you, Steve.” He turns to me. “I need four more. We’re going to school.” I get them. Soon, the egg-kids are lined up efficiently in school. Steve gets broken. I explain we can’t keep replacing Steve. Good moms and dads take care of their kids. Declan cries. I get him a new Steve.

Steve’s the troublemaker at school. He stays in for recess.  He’s a lot like his “dad.”

“Hey, Mom,” Declan says. “Kids come from eggs. Let’s watch those videos again!” We watch medical videos that speed up nine months of pregnancy. We skip the ones that show how the baby got in there and how it gets out. No pornos here! Nothing to see!

Screen Shot 2014-01-28 at 5.13.17 AM“Hey Mom,” he says. “Can we watch a video about how the baby gets in? And how it gets out?” Kids don’t miss a thing.

“No. And don’t ask Siri or Google.” I pick another plastic egg out of my pocket and tell him Steve’s friend is here to play.

“Come on, Steve, you can get out of time out. Hondo’s here to play…”

Steve and Hondo play, I eat my frittata sans guilt, and I hide Siri…so she can’t make trouble later on.

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How to Be a Stalker

Screen Shot 2013-10-17 at 5.52.28 AMI’m about to teach a lesson about researching and connecting. Who wants to learn about researching? Exactly nobody. I survey my audience. Teenaged Facebook fiends drifting off into space. Think quick. We need excitement. The best theatre is performed live…on the spot. So it is with teaching.

“Pay attention,” I say. “You may want to take notes.” Notes. An offer no student can refuse. A few pens rise through the air. “Today, I’m going to teach you…stalking.”

Stalking? Fantastic! Undivided attention…

“Ima stalk that girl who likes my boyfriend…”  Don’t worry, kid, I’ll clarify later.

“We watched three experts in our documentary. We need to know if they’re credible. They might be stupid. I don’t know.” Puzzled looks. I continue, “You know how they always interview that dumb person on the news who says, ‘But he was such a good neighbor, never gave me any trouble…’” Students nod.

Random person yanked off the street, spun as the expert:

“Excuse me, sir, what do you think about the national deficit?” 

“I’m glad you asked. I do my part by buying two burgers at the dollar menu…”

“How do we know if these are the people making an impact in the world? Dig in. Investigate.”

Stalking interests students. There are a ton of Discovery Channel shows about crime and stalking. Stalkers get ratings. Researchers…do not. Unfortunate, because I think researchers do more good for humanity. It’s all in the spin.

“Not like crime-show stalking,” I clarify. “Nothing creepy. Research!” A few students look disappointed. They’ve been had. The bait and switch complete, I continue.

I show them how to connect with real people in real time. How to leverage their research skills, find interesting people in their field, and how to make real-life contact. How evaluate whether the person’s worth his or her weight in salt, and if so, how to reach out.

“Man, this guy’s important,” they say after checking into United Nations Food Guy. They decide running all agriculture grants for Gates is probably a big deal.

“Look! He even has a Twitter! I’m going to follow him!” I look over. Someone has reset the screen savers on the student computers to pictures of our experts. A very good sign.

“This girl invented a new kind of rice that feeds a ton of people. At 18!” Yes, she did. The message I want to send is, “And you can, too.” 

Eventually, they realize we’re not stalking. There’ll be no horse heads in beds, no string of Facebook messages. No cyberbullying. Maybe just an inspired tweet or two with a scientist.

The world is about connections. When we connect, we are unstoppable. It’s a skill no one can take away. It’s a skill I’ve never seen taught in a book.

The power of the world is in our hands with social media. We can research, email, and tweet. We can connect with our heroes. We can use our power to create change, we can be someone’s hero. There are no limits to what each individual can do because every single person holds the power of the world in their hand in a single phone, tablet, or device. Like any good hero, this superpower is limitless. Using “the force,” is such a simple lesson. Using it to be a force multiplier…that is where the true magic begins.

Students can do this.

I ask a question. “What’s the number one thing people love to talk about?”

One girl shouts out, “Themselves!”

“Exactly. You’re not stalking–you’re building relationships. You feel good when people get to know you. Being on the world stage is no different. You connect. You make real friends. And when you make friends with others who want to change the world…you change the world.”

And hopefully, inspire others to do the same.

 

[image: retroworks.blogspot.com. Peter Sellers as Det. Jacques Clouseau]