The Children of Yesterday, the Children of Today

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.


About randycoates

Randy Coates graduated from the University of Waterloo with a bachelor of arts degree and went on to acquire his teacher’s certificate at the University of Western Ontario. He is currently an elementary teacher in the Toronto District Board of Education.
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2 Responses to The Children of Yesterday, the Children of Today

  1. It’s like you are describing my life growing up in a rural area. Was one of the TV channels a french one by any chance (French CBC)? lol The only difference was that we had to be careful talking on the phone because ours was a multi-party line. I was frequently interrupted by my neighbor asking (not nicely) for me to get off the phone (after I was chatting for hours with my girlfriend!)
    I too sometimes wonder where we are heading with technology and the thing that worries me the most is that we are losing the art of conversation. I have to admit that I’m guilty of this myself – I rarely call anyone on the telephone anymore, I just use email. Emailing or even texting back and forth is not really a conversation. We miss all the body cues, voice inflections, etc. The best you can do is interpret lol as a chuckle, LOL as an actual laugh, and LMAO as perhaps including a knee slap or sharing what is so funny with someone else in the room with you? Who knows?!
    Anyways, being a school teacher, I’m sure you are more on the pulse with what’s going on in middle school. I’ll be there soon myself with my daughter turning 10 in a couple of months. From what I’ve seen so far though, kids are still kids! They are still silly, they feel a range of emotions, they have friendship highs and lows, and most of the time they act responsibly, but sometimes not.
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts as part of the Kid Lit Blog Hop Randy. Nice to see you there again! 🙂

    • randycoates says:

      Thanks for the response, Renee.

      I believe there is a function for all technology or else we wouldn’t be communicating this way right now. However, I think that you are right: sometimes, people assume that whatever they do with technology constitutes good manners. The blogs are a great way of bringing us all together. When I see two people at a restaurant, sitting at the same table, and they are both texting (not each other, I hope), I wonder why they even went out to a restaurant together.

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