Years have passed since I was a child, yet I can still remember much of what was good in my life and things that made me happy.
I work as a teacher in a middle school now and I often find myself comparing my childhood to the lives of my students. What has changed, for example, or what passes for entertainment now.
The technology of my childhood involved a black and white television that provided four channels in a rural area without cable. I used to envy my cousins who lived in a small town that had cable. Eventually, as I reached my teens, my family graduated to a colour television and we invested in a VCR. Computers were unheard of in my household and the extent of my electronic game collection was a huge monitor on which I played a slow-moving, unstrategic tennis game with an invisible partner.
When I hear my students exchange conversation, they appear to have time for technology and nothing else. The boys play computerized games that are fast-moving and have amazing graphics.
Meanwhile, both the males and females communicate with each other via cell phone in any location and at any time. In fact, it is not unusual for pre-teens and teenagers to own a smartphone now. In my time as a child, I was restricted to a land line, limited to one area of the house. I had to be wary of the conversations I had with friends on the phone because my family was buzzing all around me.
Technology aside, there are other eye-opening comparisons. As a Phys. Ed. Teacher, I am required to teach dance to grade 8 students. The music I choose is usually ridiculed by those who prefer One Direction and Gangnam Style. I look at the silliness and camaraderie among the students. It is very similar to the attitudes of my fellow grade 8 students; the way of dancing is just different.
I need to convince myself all the time not to live in the past. Children’s attitudes resemble our own at that age in some ways. But we cannot always rely on the past to teach in the present what we think is significant. Doesn’t work that way.