I looked up yesterday from my desk to survey the classroom that my practicum student — who is excellent, was teaching about poetry. A corner full of boys were gathered around a laptop watching something that is presumably blocked by our filter, while several other individuals were staring at their phones. Quickly, I opened my grade book and continued surveying the room while jotting notes. I pulled out a calculator, came up with a figure, and wrote the following on the whiteboard:
Average grade of those who are currently paying attention: 3.18
Average grade of those who are not: 1.00
(Not even joking — I just did the math.)
I sat back down. My practicum student saw it and politely yet firmly pushed them to pay attention, reminding them that the things he was covering were going to be graded. A handful more started paying attention.
In a world where everything from social status to weekend plans seems to be dictated not by real humans but by their curated online representatives, it’s little wonder that phones and other technology is distracting in all settings. Hell, I know adults who still think it’s perfectly acceptable to have a phone in front of them during a face to face conversation (it isn’t by the way) and I’ll admit that Sonja and I met on eHarmony. It’s not that technology is a problem unto itself, but the manner in which we use it is often problematic.
The title of today’s post comes from one of the options that Facebook, back when I had a Facebook account, used to allow you to describe your relationship. I feel it describes my relationship with technology pretty well today. As a teacher, I use it for everything from word processing to data processing to grading to showing videos and more. I’m currently designing a lesson using Google Earth. However, it also causes incredible inconvenience when either it doesn’t work or it is distracting the people I’m supposed to be teaching about literature. It’s complicated.
Another thing that is and also isn’t complicated is Daríghe, from Woodhouse Wine Estates in Washington’s Columbia Valley. It isn’t complicated how much I like this wine, but the wine itself is quite complicated, or maybe better, complex. I’ve had a number of wines from Washington that take on an intense array of spices, but the 2014 Daríghe takes that to a whole new level, offering cinnamon, clove, and more on top of a palate that is dark chocolate, lush purple fruits like plum, and a neat combination of blueberry and blackberry. Velvety in the mouth yet well structure and sure to live long, it’s big at 14.8% and has aromas of port wine, yet smooths out to become an easy drinker upon the palate. I discovered Daríghe last year, fell in love, and have been drinking it ever since. Easily one of the best wines I’ve found from Washington State (and that’s saying something) Daríghe isn’t currently in Nebraska, but I’d like to see that fixed.
Complication, complexity, isn’t always a bad thing, and in fact its often good. But when it comes to the way that technology has taken over so many facets of our lives, and when it means we’re distracted from the real world, from learning, and from human interaction, well, I have a hard time making the case that that’s anything other than a problem. I understand that you’re probably reading this on your phone and, heck, I even write these on my phone once in a while, but I doubt you’re doing it while your kid is trying to get your attention at the dinner table, or while your boss is trying to explain something to you. There’s a time and a place for tech, and a time and a place to put it away, and that really isn’t complicated.
Cheers to complicated wine, and simple, tech-free opportunities in which to drink it,