A Lesson in How Our Kids Are Different: The Clock on the Wall

Last Saturday night, I sat in Starbucks waiting to pick up my son from a college orientation. The store is not on campus, but close enough to have a mix of town folk and college students. Needless to say, the place was pretty empty but for a few of us who chose a quieter Saturday night.

As I sat in a “comfy” chair and read a book, I noticed a few things.

  1. I was the oldest in the store (lets just say I’m a “twenty-something” times 2)
  2. I was the only one without an Apple Computer (ok, they’ve been around for a long time, but still maintain the youthful associations)
  3. I noticed the clock on the wall (chime clock with Roman numerals) was an hour behind

I guess I could also mention that I’m only one who seems to want to drink decaf at night. Anyway, as it’s been about 3-4 weeks since clocks were set forward an hour for Daylight Savings Time, I debated whether or not I should tell the barista about the clock. Then it dawned on me: none of their normal customers need that clock for anything more than another piece of the decor.  For me it’s natural to look at the clock to be on time, but for those twentysomethings, a device clockserves the purpose. This made me think of the students who sit before me each day.

While I consider myself tech-savvy in a 1:1 laptop environment, I keep needing to remind myself that these high school students who I see and work with each day, are “wired” in a fundamentally different way than me. They process differently, they see tech as a fish sees water, and they expect school to meet their needs exactly where they are. Naturally, they don’t say this, but plenty of research on the brain and effective teaching and learning supports it.  As a teacher, I feel an obligation to be where they are so I can best get them to where they want to be. Frankly, if I always keep that in focus, I’ll never stop growing, and I won’t fall behind like the clock on the wall.