As a mother and homeschool educator, I have been concerned with technology’s usurpation of relationships, conversation, education, pedagogy, and cognition. So when I read Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle, it deeply resonated with me, and the findings discussed have been the topic of many of my conversations with other homeschool educators and friends ever since.
I appreciated the discussion of how technology encroaches on even our most intimate relationships and indeed invades the core of our humanness.The final conclusion leaves us wondering how we are to face the disparity between deep and hyper attention (fractured attention that quickly zips from one point of focus to the next) and prompted me to share the following image with you:
When deep attention has to compete with hyper attention, it is akin to throwing a dolphin into a tank filled with piranhas and hoping that they will find a way to coexist.
Similarly, when I talk with my children about the reasons for reading challenging classic novels instead of goofball readers, engaging in long conversations instead of texting, taking long extended walks instead of playing video games, we find at the heart of it the question of what it means to be human: to find meaning beyond ourselves, to recognize our place in history, and to be in relationship with others.
I use the analogy of a beautiful, mountainous, and mysterious landscape. At their age, my children have the opportunity to build train tracks to the farthest reaches of this wondrous scenery (by developing their deep attention). If they build these connections now (i.e., by immersing themselves in classical literature, history, the art of conversation, etc.), they will forever be able to travel to the most remote locations that few others reach. If, however, they were to neglect the laying of these tracks now (and fall for the easy lure of hyper attention), the wonders of this landscape would remain largely hidden from them in their adult lives; only glimpses might be caught when flying over to another far-away land.
When we examine the role that technology plays in our daily lives, it also leads us to explore the question:
What is at the core of our humanness, and how does a deeper understanding of this shape our values around technology use?
For a deeper discussion on these topics check out:
Alone Together by Sherry Turkle “Technology has become the architect of our intimacies. Online, we fall prey to the illusion of companionship, gathering thousands of Twitter and Facebook friends, and confusing tweets and wall posts with authentic communication. But this relentless connection leads to a new solitude.”
Reclaiming Conversation by Sherry Turkle “Renowned media scholar Sherry Turkle investigates how a flight from conversation undermines our relationships, creativity, and productivity–and why reclaiming face-to-face conversation can help us regain lost ground.”
The Tech-Wise Family by Andy Crouch “Making conscientious choices about technology in our families is more than just using internet filters and determining screen time limits for our children. It’s about developing wisdom, character, and courage in the way we use digital media rather than accepting technology’s promises of ease, instant gratification, and the world’s knowledge at our fingertips. And it’s definitely not just about the kids.”