The Halloween lights are scattered over the door. In the window is a glaring Beware sign accompanied by a scary looking jack-o-lantern. The trick or treat bowls are overflowing and ready. The witches hat cookies are ready for school. The goody bags are packed by the door. School Halloween is about to begin. Beware teachers everywhere!
As an educator this is an issue that distresses me almost daily. We now live in a time of texting, tweeting and quick social media blurbs that do not conform to any grammar or spelling rules. Some days as I watch my students create a new piece of writing, I often wonder what writing will be like in ten years, or actually in as little as five years.
The new rules of writing workshop is to allow children to create their stories without thinking about grammar or mechanics. I completely agree that it is important to not stagnate creative thoughts, however, it makes it extremely difficult to have them go back and fix these problems. How can we expect them to do this when instruction hardly ever focuses on this?! Yes, we do support our classes with some instruction on sentence structure, capitals and punctuation. Unfortunately, as a society we put less emphasis on these structures. But these same students will be expected to provide high quality writing assignments in a college course somewhere down the road. So how do we as educators turn this around? We embrace new programs that embellish creativity while just touching on good writing. It is our job to formulate instruction so that children can acquire grammar and mechanics skills while focusing on the creative aspect of writing.
I like the way we can express ourselves in society and not hold back feelings, opinions, etc. This will continue to be predominant as we go through this century. We are now able to express ourselves through so many different channels that people everywhere can express their feelings through a blog, a Pinterest site and a Facebook post. This is our new world of immediate gratification and expression that our children are learning within.
So everyday I will continue to struggle with the death of grammar while embracing new ideals and leaning new ways to express ourselves in this fast paced, info rich society.
So I was at a reading teaching workshop today and our first job was to figure out the meaning of some new words recently added to the Oxford dictionary. I am most fascinated by the word nonversation. From someone who grew up in the 1970s and enjoyed the precomputer days as a teenager, this word reflects the new world we live in.
Although I do admit to enjoying Facebook, Twitter, emails and surfing the web, it astonishes me how the family structure has diminished over the years In case you didn’t figure it out yet, a nonversation is a person communicating with their cellphone instead of others around them. Yes, I feel privileged to be able to reach out to a friend by text to confirm an appointment and to peruse my emails before even getting home from work but when will it end.
Are we raising a generation of introverted, non-talkers who can only communicate using a phone or tablet? Will family dinners continue to highlight a family of four at a diner texting, surfing and playing video games instead of sharing the details of their days. Yes, I think that technology has improved our lives enormously but I do miss that human contact. Somehow I never had a problem finding my friends at night when cell phones weren’t even a thought in an inventor’s mind. Some days I yearn for that life back. I still enjoy the feel of a brand new book or writing a card to a dear friend.
Next time you ignore someone who needs your attention and think back to the day when we all treated each other with respect and spoke face to face. Children today will not experience any of the simple things we enjoyed. They will never know the anguish of waiting for someone to call and anxiety if you left the house and missed the call. Oh yes, there were no answering machines either. OMG How did we survive with conversation ?!
It was a bitter cold Halloween. The distressed wood pumpkin on the lawn had a frost buildup. The kids in costumes ran up and down the cul-de-sac oblivious to the frozen parents escorting them, praying for time to fly by. Her daughter clumsily ran up the stairs screaming with glee. The twins ran after her. They all plopped onto the couch at once spilling all their candy on the floor. The dog frantically tried to grab some before I scooped him away. And then it started.
Suddenly, the candy began to take a new form. The Super Nerds escaped out of the tiny boxes and started scampering through the living room, up the stairs screaming in high pitched voices. The children stampeded up the stairs behind them. They were screaming with delight. The dog scurried into the bathtub.
As the children continued laughing with the Super Nerds, I turned only to find the Good and Plenty candies escaping from the box. They slowly became goopy looking pink and white ghosts with licorice black eyes. They flowed together and elongated and swayed as they swept across the floor towards me. I ran up the stairs only to be stopped by Super Nerds who were howling with laughter. The children were now all dressed up as vibrant Super Nerds and giggled at me, I lost my breath, tripped on one step and fell backwards. A pink gooey ghost caught me and bellowed loudly. Where was my husband? Why was the dog hiding?
The Super Nerds jumped up to my neck, pulled my hair and laughed right into my ear. My children put their arms around my legs and danced in a circle. I felt myself falling to the ground, like a soft cloud. Breathing through my mouth I am trying to catch my breath. I sense a cloudy marshmallow all around me. I feel my precious beagle’s wet nose against my arm. I turn over towards my pink and white pillow. I am greeted by my loud alarm clock. I jump with a startle. Is it Halloween morning or did I miss it all?