The Techobell Epiphany

18 01 2017

I thoroughly enjoy people watching.  I do it pretty much wherever I go; School, Church, Stores, restaurants, and fast food places that are also sometimes called “restaurants” (in a loose sense).  Although the location doesn’t really matter for my story, I often find a certain diversity at a certain “restaurant” (“*cough cough* ‘look at the title’ *cough*”).

Sometime after I got in line but before an older lady asked me about where I got my bookbag/satchel/man-purse, I observed a family sitting at a nearby table.  There were two little girls who were peering through the little divider wall decorations (whatever they’re called… you know; the ones you looked through the little holes of when you were little).  I immediately had flashbacks to when I did it as a kid.  It struck me odd that nobody taught me to do it.  In fact: I was often scolded for it as it often meant bothering the table next to ours.  But here it was, two complete strangers, who’s childhood reflected my own.

I suppose it could be obvious that children are exploratory in nature.  Their curiosity at that stage in life seems to have no social boundaries or expectations.  More importantly, I found it interesting that, these kids could take in a whole 360o view of their environment, but instead chose to looks through a small hole in a divider.  At first I wondered if that experience somehow correlated to this up-coming generations knowledge and fascination with tablets and phones.  As if they preferred looking through a box rather than the whole world because to them, that’s how they saw the world.

But then I considered that I did the same thing when I was little (before I really discovered computers, and before cell-phones and tablets were even common-place things).  So these kids in that unnamed taco place (ring any bells?), weren’t likely trying to view the world only from a boxed perspective, and were genuinely just exploring the world as kids do/should, than what was with kids’ fascination with limiting their exploration by narrowing their visual observation capacity?

It then occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, that this idea of visually focusing on a smaller area, is what makes learning easier.  Instead of being bombarded by all the information at once, children prefer to focus on one idea, study it, and then learn.  Taking this one step further, the trend of really little people… like three-year-old’s being able to navigate their parents’ phones (or heaven forbid: their own phones!) with ease, might be under the same concept of the “boxed perspective”.  The consequences of fast moving, interactive experiences on “toddler-tablets” still is up in the air, but it’s very clear that this young generation certainly knows how to use them.

Fast forward in my story about 20 minutes, as I’m eating my stuffed tube of flour patty.  In my defense, it’s not eves-dropping if your talking in public.  Anyway, there is a gentleman behind me trying to explain google search to another older gentleman who is likely in his 80’s.  I was fascinated at the cultural difference between this older gentleman and what I presume to be a completely tech-savvy kinder-culture.

First off, the learning process was completely different.  I hear all the time about children learning through discovery, or hands-on approaches.  But this older gentleman wasn’t grasping the concept of what the internet even was.  The other guy was trying to explain what you could do on the internet, and had to change tactics about half way through my lunch to: This is how you do this.  It was a methodical process.  This individual even stated “once you memorize how to do it, you’ll be good to go.”  It was shocking to me to suddenly realize that how we learn might not be entirely based on nature.  Rather, each generation’s education was built upon the nurture of whatever system was in play.  We’ve seen the old shows, where students sit in a class of even rows of desks, reciting times-tables verbatim.   Compare that today to a broadcast I heard about modern classrooms that often don’t even use desks.

I’m not advocating a specific system of learning, or that even one is more effective than the other, and certainly not how we measure the effectiveness of education (that’s another rant).  But whatever the case, however we learn in our youth seems to stick with us.  Whether it’s a process-based method, or an world exploration.  The saying: “You can’t teach old-dogs new tricks,” may only be logical if consider this: “You can’t un-teach old dogs old tricks.”oHow

Advertisements




Love, Poets, and a Sip of Tea

5 10 2016
20161005_112335

“A Literary Review”, 2016, EIC: Jordan Macklin, A Colorado Mesa University Publication

I was sitting around at school in a chair that’s just uncomfortable enough that it reminds me that I have somewhere else to be eventually.  The reds and yellows of the chairs and floor offset the plain white wall that reach up to the white ceiling.  I’m caught off guard by a brightly colored book.  It’s covered in neon paint splashes.  The top half: a pair of eyes stare out into the real world.  The bottom half: the words scrawled across, “The Literary Review”.  Okay, I’ve got a little time to stall before I get back to work.

I crack open this, what I assume to be freshly printed, book.  It’s published by my school and filled with students’ works.  It’s sorted by sections; Fiction, non-fiction, theater, poetry, etc..  A few photographs and drawings filled in between sections.  Poetry was the first section, and as I’m clearly the kind of guy that does things in an organized matter (that’s sarcasm for those who don’t know me), I started there.  I thumbed through the pages.  It was a small collection, but as I stopped and glanced from poem to poem, I saw the same themes in every single one.  Nearly each containing a regret, a lament, or even a loathing for the world they found themselves in.  I find it disheartening that my generation finds itself lost in uncertainty and imperfection.

“I was built to break.
Not to meticulously pick apart,
Not to solve
Scenes as fine-spun as her.”

Fecundity, Shannon Kay Spoon, The Literary Review, 2016

Poetry and stories have always been a form of self-expression;  whether the intent of the the author is to be as such.  I’ve written some depressing stuff before too, and so I get it.  I get that sometimes the only outlet is to write.  However; there is a pattern here that seems impossible to ignore.  Each presumably submitted as their best works, their showcase, the art that they want to be remembered.  Do we prefer to revel in the darkness and din of our own wandering?  have we forgotten the beauty of life and love?20151006_184804

Yesterday, my mother asked me: “How do you know you love her?” I’d prepared for this answer for months with almost certainty that someone would eventually ask.  With skill and precision and with near perfect recital, having been as prepared as I was (once again… sarcasm), I said: “you know, I can’t really explain it.”  My mom has a cherish-able habit of asking me deep personal questions when I’m strapped down into a seat and unable to escape… perhaps I deserve that fate.   But anyway, there I was, unable to give an explainable answer.  I couldn’t describe it.  I know with absolute certainty that it’s true, and will forever remain so; but I couldn’t explain it.

It seems easier for people to explain feelings of angst and uncertainty than it is to explain beauty or joy.  We’ve become accustomed to analyzing suffering and despair.  People have made livings on telling what’s wrong with the picture.  With answers ‘they’re depressed’, ‘they were mentally unstable’, ‘their environment wasn’t allowing them to succeed’ we seem to have been indoctrinated that in order to be happy we must understand why people are not.  We look at our worldly pains and study them, we adapt to them, and in a sick and twisted way, we’ve melded to them.  The idea of ‘expressing ourselves’ often comes out as “this is why I/the world sucks.”

*pauses… sips tea… resets perspective.

20160704_202807

The Irony in my message today is the bleak outlook I may have painted of the matter.  This is anything but true!  I take issue with this, not because “you’re poems suck, and you’re a terrible person,” but because I know that the world we live in is full of good things.  The words we speak or write need not be tainted with negativity, as our ‘outlet’ to feel, but they should rather fill us with hope and longing to improve our condition.

Take joy my friends.  Dance among the stars! Yes, a moment of grief and solitude may be needed, but don’t forget that it is not a life worth living by itself.  Singers: Sing of the summer rain and the flowers of spring.  Dancers: dance with the heart of a warrior, and the grace of an angel.  Painters: imprint on us the bold colors of life.

Poets and writers, a special creed I offer to you: Loose your shackles of bitterness and regret.  Oh scribes of our souls, heed not the warnings of fear and despair.  Adventure forth into the world, peering into the corners of our furthest hopes.  Grow not weary or disheartened.  Seek through mire of hopelessness.  For all can already see what is clearly in front of us.  Seek deeper, wander farther, share with the world what it does not know.  May your works bring wonder and awe to all who see.  Do not find peace in serenity of hopelessness.  Find it instead in the words of the kind, the brave, the virtuous, and the wise.  Be those words.