“The Days are Just Packed” No More?

empty playgroundOne of my favorite Calvin and Hobbes Sunday strips (and collections) involves a long summer day with Calvin’s final comment of how “the days are just packed.”  I think most of us feel that way . . . and most of the time, really.  And because of our weird substitute of leisure for rest, even our time off feels like work.  What, then, does it mean for a day to be packed “well”?

Andy Crouch has a lot to say about daily life in The Tech-Wise Family.  As with so many other gems, his comment on the necessity of sleep alone is worth the admission price (and hints at one big reason why lots of contemporary approaches to education are possibly failures at the most important things).

One of the most interesting assertions that Crouch makes (particularly in the chapter “Learning and Working”) has to do with how the “easy-everywhere” mentality of technology can short-circuit things for children as they mature.  Crouch asserts that “the best and richest experiences of learning, it turns out, are embodied ones.”  He continues:

We are made to live and learn in a physical world. And no human beings are more exuberantly and fundamentally rooted in the body than children. As children, our bodies are full of energy and primed for physical learning. We are designed to explore our world and learn through all our senses.

From there, Crouch articulates how technology can make things “dangerously easy.”  He says:

The last thing you need when you are learning, at any age but especially in childhood, is to have things made too easy. Difficulty and resistance, as long as they are age appropriate and not too discouraging, are actually what press our brains and bodies to adapt and learn. From the earliest games of peekaboo to the challenge of mastering a sport or a musical instrument, we are designed to thrive on complex, embodied tasks that require the engagement of many senses at once, and not just our senses but our muscles, from the tiny adjustments possible in the human hand or voice to the gross motor movements of legs and arms . . .

But now, very early on in our lives and learning, we are substituting a single kind of activity, a dangerously easy and simple one, for the difficult, multidimensional kinds of activity that the real world offers us.

One concept prevalent in education is “the gradual release of responsibility.”  I wonder if we have lost site of “the gradual increase of difficulty” in relation to things that really matter, things that might give the impression of being easily solved.  It’s difficult to have an deeper, intricate conversation with those who see no need to understand something intimately because the only answers worth seeing are the easy ones.

You can order your own copy of Crouch’s The Tech-Wise Family here.  I highly recommend it.

(image from shutterstock.com)

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