A long, long time ago…

A long, long time ago…

Have you ever heard that argument, “back when I was a kid we didn’t have those fancy things”, or “back when I was in school we didn’t have cell phones in our pockets and we survived just fine”.

Surely you have heard or read someone with that mentality, heck you may have even made that argument before.  Well, it’s getting old.

My perspective is a unique one.  I grew up as technology was growing up.  I am one of those kids, yes I still refer to myself as a kid, who remembers playing outside for hours, in the creek, or the woods, or at the park, anywhere really.  My friends and I would ride bikes to the park, we would meet up at the lake and we had to plan, yes plan, where to go from there.  We had to check in from a pay phone if we were out and about and wanted to change our plans.  We had a few computers at our school, but they weren’t widely used yet.  The internet was just getting its wings as we were getting our facial hair, but painfully slow dial up made it unreliable, and God forbid someone pick up the phone in the house when you were trying to log on to AOL.

Our Beats headphones resembled a flat piece of metal with a foam disk on each end and plugged into a Walkman, no wait, a Discman a few years after that.  If you were driving your car, you had to stop at Radio Shack and get a cassette adapter for your Discman so you could listen to that Beastie Boys CD in your car’s cassette player, but only if you had an anti-skip Discman, or a T-shirt folded up to pad it from the bumps of the road.

We rushed to the computer lab to load our floppy disks and play The Oregon Trail, I only liked to hunt and often died of dysentery.  We also rushed out to the playground to play a pick-up game of whatever ball was inflated that day.

As we grew, technology did as well.  My friends and I happened to be lucky enough to have a college email address to switch our Myspace accounts over to a Facebook account.  We played snake on Nokia cell phones, and upgraded to a Razor flip phone, then a slide keyboard Envy and eventually a Blackberry or iPhone.  Yet we remember riding in cars without phones, taking pictures on a disposable camera and pressing record on a tape player when the radio played our favorite song, and now we would never dream of doing any of those things.  It is different now, no doubt about it.

The argument that we grew up without it, and we succeeded, so should everyone else is as archaic as the payphones we dropped coins into.

We are going through a time now where anyone can express your opinion on anything, it just takes a few keystrokes, heck, and here I am doing the same, but just because you didn’t have it, doesn’t mean it’s not okay.

Where is this all coming from? Right now schools across the country have to beg, plead and borrow to make ends meet.  Each district is in unique situations across the country and having to cut programs, eliminate positions, or squeeze their budget in ways that most people would never dream about doing in their own lives.  Not many districts around the country are exempt from this squeeze and it is altering the lives or everyone involved.  It is necessary for various reasons, which I won’t get into, but I will say very rarely is it a case of financial abuse, or neglect on the districts behalf.  This is a direct result of funding issues and misuse of funds at a much higher level, but the districts, the employees, the students are the ones that feel the pinch.

Picture this, you are sitting at home and hear a loud machine out front of your door.  You peak outside and see a bulldozer scraping up your street.  Your city is in financial trouble, and the cost to maintain your street is becoming a burden on the city, so they need to remove it.  Yes you could technically live without your street, many people in history survived decades without streets, but to no fault of your own, you are now without a street.  You paid your taxes, you did your part, but someone who makes decisions for your community decided that this is what needs to be done to help with their situation. Now your car is always dirty, your yard floods and you have gone through more tires in a year than you did previously in five years.  How is that no street thing working out for you?  Oh by the way the citizens who live on the other side of town still have streets, can get to work on time and have no issues with their basement flooding.  They are now in a better position to live, once again, no fault of your own, and technically you can still survive just fine, but they will be better off.  Sorry, my grandpa grew up without streets, so deal with it.

I hear people who went to school without laptops, iPads and sports complaining that it didn’t hurt their education, so it shouldn’t hurt when kids now don’t have those things.  Oh, they didn’t have air conditioning either so we just get rid of air conditioning too.

Number of activities Number of student participants Average GPA
1 622 2.775
2 418 3.091
3 303 3.360
4 173 3.477
5 or more 337 3.708


(The table above reflects my local school districts statistics on students who participate in extra-curricular activities and their GPA. Still think extra-curriculars aren’t important?)

They are right, they didn’t have the luxuries that most young people today have, but guess what, and they didn’t live in the world we live in today.  If you want to produce the best students, you have to have the best things and employees.  If you want your students to go on to college and excel, they must be proficient in technology.  They have to be able to keep up with the pace of the world.  Sure we can ditch the computers, the extra-curricular activities and all those posh things that you didn’t grow up with, but then we wouldn’t be putting the best interest of our children at the forefront.  They need these things in order to continue making our country the best country it can be.

So the age old argument of we didn’t have it, so they don’t need it is getting old.  I didn’t have a lot of it either, but every day I see how important it is to be out ahead of these things.  If you don’t have it, or aren’t teaching it, someone else is, and that prepares them for that future job that much more.  You will be setting students up for failure.  Support your schools, support your teachers and please don’t take troubles of the world out on the youth, it’s not their fault, they are just inheriting it.


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