Tuesday, May 20, 2014

What to do when your internet doesn't work...or justification for Luddism.

I have to admit that I actually really love technology.  Never mind that I barely believe in science. (Oh, don’t get all weird on me; it’s not like I’m one of those people who believes the earth was literally created in seven days and is only 48 years old or something.  I just don’t really understand most science so I don’t pay much attention to it.)  I mean, I’m pretty antediluvian in my application of technology.  People who are up to date, as a rule, at least have an electric record player.  (I exaggerate—I do have one but I’m not terribly good at operating it.)

If it weren’t for technology I wouldn’t even have my trusty Grafonola, because while significantly out of date it does represent a technological advance.  Ditto electricity, which I mistrust but of which I am quite fond.  Candles are great at dinner parties but otherwise are kind of a pain in the ass (see post—“I live with retarded cats”)especially when Wally manages to catch his tail on fire. And indoor plumbing? Thanks, but I’m not about to give that up.  The past loses its romance in great part when you consider Elizabethan London, where the contents of chamber pots were usually tossed out the window and into the street.

The major downside to technology is that we are utterly lost without it.  The school lost its internet connection this morning (I’m typing this up in Word, intending to post it later).  This completely poleaxes my lesson for the day.  Fortunately my kids are perfectly happy to just sit here and read, because there’s nothing else to do.  See, we are the pilot program for school-issued Chromebooks ™ in Chesterfield.  Therefore, most kids don’t have paper, because they don’t usually need it.  I can’t see my lesson plans because they’re all online. I would resort to older, still-functioning technology and pop a movie on, but…I don’t have any DVDs or even VHS tapes in the classroom because since the ‘net is the savior of the world I usually just show stuff that’s online, when I need to use a movie.      
Most of my kids can’t really remember the Y2K panic, but I do, and I found it hilarious at the time.  People really expected airplanes to drop out of the sky. I’m sure that even hypermodern airliners have manual overrides.  I even heard someone claim that elevators would stop working and people would be trapped in office buildings all over the world.  (To be fair I suppose that would be a result of power outages, but the person seemed particularly concerned about elevators, as if the elevators themselves would be distracted by the event.)  What I never did figure out was why it was such a big deal if all the computers thought it was 1900.  I could see that it might be problematic for record keeping, but why would it make computers just up and die?  Would the computers possibly realize that if it was indeed 1900 they wouldn’t have been invented yet, and shut down in order to preserve the time-space continuum?  It didn’t happen anyway so speculation in hindsight is a little pointless. 

On the other hand I am sitting here with a bunch of kids who have effectively forgotten how to complete assignments on paper (we did discover some paper).  Also: none of them know how to write in cursive.  It’s “old fashioned” so schools don’t teach it anymore.  And a bonus for today, mesdames and messieurs—today’s Thing My Students Don’t Know: “What’s a boxcar?”

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Thanks! Now, go get a drink, sit down and enjoy the show.