WE HAVE CREATED A DIGITAL MAGICAL FARAWAY TREE

I love long train journeys! Lately, I have learned to use that time to think, observe and daydream. I treasure these times. It is a dreaming space and I intend to find more. I used to fill every spare moment with work-related projects on my phone or iPad but I am re-learning to think and daydream and it feels good!

I also notice so many children with this “busyness” complex. Their lives are full of arranged activities and they don’t have time to think or even play. They no longer have time to wonder and dream.

When they are old enough, we give them phones and iPads and that sucks up any free moments. Just look around you- we are ALL plugged in. When do we dream, observe and THINK!

I have been talking to kids about the use of iPads at school. They have shown me their clandestine ways to play games while appearing to research and do their work. When I inquired how many students do this my students look at me with surprise- “pretty much everyone” is their reply.

They are so dependent on digital media- as we all are. I have to insist they turn their phones over so they cannot see the constant stream of messages coming in. Students often glance towards their vibrating machines and I am forced to remove them completely. 

There is no space. No nothingness. No time to dream anymore. Spare time is not there now. People sit at dinner while texting someone who isn’t actually there. And when they are actually with that person, they are texting someone else. Soon nobody will be able to concentrate at all! We have forgotten how to actually BE with someone!

A few years ago I visited a doctor who not only took the call- he actually said, “Won’t be a moment, “ and laid the phone down, continued to examine me and dismissed me so he could get back to the conversation. I was astonished but looking back it now does not seem like such a big deal! We are pretty much ALL in this now and we need to look closely at WHY we need to be so reliant on the buzz or beep. Is this OK?

It’s certainly not OK for the kids I teach. Some of them use this online world as a total escape. They don’t want to look at what is really happening around them and so elect to live in a shallow world that beeps every few seconds. Instead of the Enid Blyton enchanted lands at the top of the magic faraway tree, we have created the land of beeps, vibrate and weird rings. Are we too scared to be alone with our thoughts? Online learning, games etc are marvellous toots but we have to help children control them and that starts with modelling our own use of digital media. Let’s not give up!