I love to see people's reactions when they find out we don't have a cell phone. At first they look at me like they're expecting me to say, "Just kidding!" Then they realize I'm not...and they look at me like I'm crazy.
But, call me old-fashioned, or old-school, or even out of touch if you want, but I don't have one (no one at our house does) and I don't want one. I look around and what I see is this: people having conversations on their cell phones instead of with the people right next to them. People ignoring their spouses, children, and friends because they're texting away or checking facebook on their phone. People who seem fed up with the stress of work and yet carry it with them on their belt clip.
You see, if I leave the house, it's for a reason. If I'm going to the store, it's to buy groceries, not to have a conversation on the phone. If I'm taking my kids to the park, it's to enjoy a day with my children, not to spend half the time uploading instant mobile pics to facebook. If I'm on a date with my husband, I don't need to talk to my mother.
People say, "But - gasp! - what about in case of emergencies?"
Oh, you're right, what on earth did people do in case of emergencies 30 years ago? Oh, you called the place people were at and asked to talk to them. Or you drove (or walked, or rode your horse) to where they were and got them.
Not to mention, the actual chances of some emergency happening that would require anyone to need to talk to me instantly is so insanely small it's not even worth considering. But - gasp! What if your kids need you? Well, first of all, most of the time, my kids are WITH ME. If they're not, they're with someone I trust. If they're out on their own, they know safe places to go for help. Not to mention, they're pretty mature and responsible kids who can take of themselves in most all situations.
And then there's the whole, "there's an app for that," mentality. Sure, there's an app for it, but really, how much trouble is it to do a little work and do things the old fashioned way? A friend told me the other day about an app that lets you take a picture of a tree and it will instantly identify what kind of tree it is. OK...or I could pull out my field guide and look it up.
What does all this have to do with learning? Well, this: I'd rather my kids do things the old fashioned way. We live in world where I see headlines like, "Do We Really Need to Teach Handwriting?" (because everyone does their work on a computer anyway), "Is Learning Proper Spelling Obsolete?" (because you can just use SpellCheck!), and "Calculator Use Starts in Kindergarten," (because we couldn't possibly need to teach them to do math in their heads or -gasp again! - with pencil and paper!). Well, I guess I am old-fashioned because I believe in doing it the right way - without the help of technology.
I don't want an app for that. I want a real book, or a conversation with a real person. I want to be able to sit down to lunch with someone and have them talk to me instead of texting someone else every minute or two. I want my children to remember a world society seems to be forgetting - the world where people take the time to listen and care about each other, where living "in the moment" is more important than knowing all the latest happenings half way across the country. I want them to value books - real books, not e-books, not "look what I downloaded onto my Kindle," but real books. Need to know something? We have a dictionary, a set of encyclopedias, an atlas...the internet is a last resort.
Please don't get me wrong, we don't shun all technology. Obviously I'm using a computer and hooked up to the internet right now. We have a TV (no cable, though) and every video game system known to man (thank my husband for that). My kids can hold their own in computer savvy-ness and video game high scores. But that's such a small part of life. Real life is in the real world, not cyberspace. No picture of a tree that automatically spits out information about said tree can ever compare to truly examining a tree, looking intently at its leaves and bark and branch structure in order to search it out in the field guide. Life in the real world. Learning in the real world. No cell phones (or apps) here, please.