I entered the world of professional education in the fall of 1992, after five years in college, which had followed my K-12 education. Looking at it from a certain perspective, I have been in school pretty much non-stop for nearly 40 years! How things have changed from those early days.
My first year of teaching was spent in a public high school, teaching math and science. I had a chalkboard (not a dry erase board). At the end of each week, my student of choice had to go outside to clap erasers, kicking up a cloud of dust that made that end of the school a light, pasty yellow color over time. Each time I dropped my chalk, it shattered into about four pieces, so I would have to write with a little stub that was short enough that my fingernails would scrape the board and freak out all my students. Ahhh...memories.
Back then, we made copies on the mimeograph machine, which printed in a light lavender color, and emitted ink fumes that killed the brain cells we were relying on to pass the very test we were handing out. Those of you who are under 35 might not know what I am talking about, but the rest of us can still smell that aroma can't we?
And, believe it or not, there was no internet, no personal computers in the classrooms, no cell phones, no texting. We actually had to go to the library, do some manual research, and teach exclusively with books, pull-down maps, and words. Higher technology was having an overhead projector with a turn-crank that could pull the transparency across the light, meaning I only had to clean it once per class period.
|The Apple 2e. This is where all this insanity began!|
As I type this, I am feeling like I am describing the one-room schoolhouse on Little House on the Prairie (a popular TV show for those who remember any of the things I have mentioned above). But, in reality, I am describing a school where I taught only 19 years ago!
The speed in which our world has transformed in under two decades is nothing short of phenominal thanks primarily to people like Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. Now, we teach with laptops and projectors, or even "Smart Boards" in class. Virtually all research is done through the internet while sitting in my living room in lounge clothes. I can send documents anywhere at any time. I can communicate with anyone at any time. When I use Skype, I can even see the people on the other end. Now, my phone can even search the internet and create documents.
The funny thing is that for the majority of my life, most of these things were not available, but it seems as if they have been here forever. This became evident this morning when we all arrived at school to find the phones, copiers, and internet dysfunctional. We had some sort of power surge yesterday afternoon, which destroyed the delicate components of our internal communications systems. All of a sudden, we could not send an email, make a call, or copy a paper.
Around 30 minutes after the bell rang for school to begin, the administrative staff found ourselves standing in the main office, staring at one another. This led to actual voice-to-voice conversation, and eventual laughter at the realization of how much we have become addicted to the screen. All of a sudden, we were back in 1992. What do we do? Can life go on like this? Will the food supply run out? Seriously, we were only about a half step away from putting on miner hats and tunneling our way out of the building to safety!
As I walked the halls of the school, there was only one question..."when?" When will my computer work again? When will I be able to escape this desert island of non-communication? When will this madness ever end?
As I sit in front of the dim glow of my laptop, due to the failure of my normal office computer, I am thinking that this day has been a fresh reminder of the importance of people, relationships, and words spoken through lips (as opposed to words spoken by thumbs). In some small and weird way, we all felt like we were in a crisis today (sad isn't it?), and needed to band together to get through it. There was a puzzle to solve, and we were given the task of finding the answer. And, it required human beings, standing in the same room, using our voices to do so.
My prayer is that HCA never gets so technologically "advanced" that the people within all just become an email address or a Twitter account. May God allow us to be the exception, even to this irresitable rule. Obviously, I am not opposed to technology. And, to some extent, I am hypocritically using it with you right now. But, it would break my heart if it all came down to this type of communication...because people are important. Not only keeping them updated on the latest news, but paying attention to their emotions, needs, prayers, and dreams, which can often get overlooked electronically.
That's why human teachers are still important, instead of just online classes. That's why handshakes are still important, instead of just texting. That's why Jesus came to earth. He could have just tweeted a message that said, "U R Savd 2 day". Aren't you glad He did it in person?