I was filled with nerd-teacher rage this morning, as I read about Mem Fox’s hatred of technology. I researched an entire stack of published journal articles, studies and thesis’ proving the power of technology in education (particularly for students with special needs; autism, hearing etc) to prove my rage.
Then, while trying to find an incriminating photo of Mem Fox with technology, I stumbled upon this interview conducted late yesterday by the Adelaide ABC.
I have, once again, been misled by media. Mem Fox isn’t waging a war with the iPad… or technology. She is simply “anti-abandoning the child to the technology.”
Mem Fox, whose “Possum Magic” filled my schoolgirl head with beautiful words and Australian wildlife, is concerned about your children, your nephews, your nieces, your cousins… every and any child who is left alone to sail the ‘soul-less’ waters of smart devices.
“They are absolutely addictive”
You are absolutely right, Mem Fox. Smart devices are absolutely addictive. Candy Crush is causing back strain world-wide. And smart devices are no substitute to good parenting.
As an avid reader, I wouldn’t trade anything for the feel of a “new” book in my hands. The excitement that comes from the unknown, the possibilities held in your hands, a whole universe created by words in moments. Though I have various e-readers and occasionally purchase the e-book that I can’t access physically, I dread the day I am unable to buy a second-hand book for 50c or pass on a riveting read to a relative. I’d argue that books are absolutely addictive too. The books all over my house are testament to that.
“It’s about bonding”
I have seen parents palm off their hand-held device to children in waiting lines, in supermarkets, in doctor’s surgeries, in every parent’s attempt to seem in control of their offspring. We can’t presume this family doesn’t ‘bond’ at home, outside of the public eye.
I spent hours on my GameBoy Colour playing Pokemon. I would take my GameBoy everywhere with me and play it whenever I had light (no backlit screens, young people!). My dad actually took me to a Pokemon convention in Sydney, linking the hand-held device to a beautiful bonding memory I have. Of course, my parents bonded with me in other ways, constantly communicating and sharing with me.
“It’s so much about love”
I had the pleasure of being on a teaching practicum with a combined Kindergarten and Year 1 class (kids aged 5 – 7 yrs). During prac, my absolute favourite thing was reading to the class. Mem Fox has it completely right. Kids really do say the funniest things during a book reading!
As the reader, I felt the greatest sense of responsibility to pass over the correct message of the book. To make sure the characters were understood, each in their own way. To allow the students access to a fantastical world imagined individually but experienced socially. I have never felt more connected (bonded) to a group of people.
The sheer delight I experienced while reading to these kids can only be equated with love. That dizzy excitement of new found love. The powerful experience of shared knowledge and emotions. That’s what Mem Fox is right about.
Let’s not lose these moments.
Let’s not forget the revelations a book, a child and a parent will discover.
Let’s bring back the potential of reading.