The Times They Are A-Changin’

Today I had the opportunity to chaperone a field trip to the theater at my alma mater, the University of Rhode Island.  Walking through the Fine Arts building, which holds oh-so-many memories for me, was pure nostalgia tinted with a hint of surrealism.  It felt simultaneously familiar yet strangely new.   I thought I saw my 20-year-old self as I negotiated the wide hallways–studying in a corner, reading an assigned novel curled up on a comfortable chair.

But as soon as I stepped off memory lane and looked at the actual students on campus, I noticed something quite new–study groups using laptops (with said laptops open to Facebook), not even looking at or talking to each other; cell phones everywhere, their owners furiously texting instead of reading the copious notes on which they’re about to be tested; students reading on tablets with all of the accompanying distractions.

And I thought about how just 23 short years ago, these distractions did not exist.  Believe me, I’m grateful.  I have no doubt that had Facebook, texting, and Netflix been part of my young-adult reality, I would have gotten substantially less done, and I truly don’t know where that would have led (or not led).

And this made me think about what the life of a college student is going to look like for my sons–who will enter college in 2022, 2024, and 2027.  What will exist to distract them?

I can’t even begin to imagine.

But what I do know is that starting now I need to teach them how to tune out the distracting technology, to focus on the single task at hand, to prioritize academics over social networking, and to exhibit self-control amidst the chaos.

Oscar will land on a college campus in just ten years–and I find myself wondering if I’m going to have enough time to impart all of this.

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5 thoughts on “The Times They Are A-Changin’

  1. We are living history.
    What students today take for granted, we experienced the foundation of in reality: typewriters for term papers wherein there was insufficient space for a footnote?
    How far back can we go with the man who was President (yes, the word was capitalized out of respect) when we were born?
    Music, news, the arts–and whatever else appears, we have the stuff to adjust, do they?
    Peace,

  2. I’m with you Samantha! Here’s my theory — 30 years ago, when I was a URI student, most everyone had a cigarette in their hand. Today, cigarettes seem to have been replaced with electronic devices. Neither good for physical or social health! Best thing to do is to talk to our sons (continually) about the benefits of actually holding a face to face conversation — without blowing smoke or using the ether net! On another note — would love to compare memories of the Fine Arts building. I have a whopper involving my Theater 101 experience!

  3. I recently said that I am glad to have graduated high school before the smart phone explosion. My boyfriend is always having problems with students using their phones to play games in class… and man, I’m glad I never had to deal with it. I do find myself frustrated and distracted by social networking as well, but never frustrated enough to get rid of it entirely…

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