Several years ago a teacher told me that they asked the families at her school to record the amount of screen time their child had for a week. The next week they asked the parents to turn off all devices and spend the same amount of time interacting with their child by reading, playing games, doing chores around the house, going for walks, etc. Do you think most families could survive this? It certainly would be a meaningful challenge!
It dawned on me that this might also be a powerful experience for schools – just for a day! (I don’t want mass mutiny!) You know how they have “walk to school day” and everyone catches the spirit and tries something new. How creative and enlightening for teachers to plan a day without an interactive white board, computer, video, etc.! And how exciting for children to talk, interact with friends, write by hand, and do other learning activities!
I was recently introduced to BLACKOUT by John Rocco. It’s a delightful tale about what happens when a family in a big city loses power. I won’t tell you what happens, but I bet you can guess. I was talking to some children recently about the “olden days” before televisions, video games, cell phones, and computers. They were stunned and said, “What did you do?” I smiled and replied, “You know what? We played outside and had lots of fun!”
There are many things we do in schools that don’t have an impact on children, but I bet if you “shut down” for one day it would leave a lasting impression. It could also lead to some great learning opportunities. Students could write opinions, do a T-Chart of things to do with a screen and without a screen, graph preferences, make a book about what to do without technology, do a Venn diagram...
And, with that thought in mind, I’m going to turn off my computer and go for a walk. Of course, the minute I get home the first thing I’ll do is look at my phone. It’s a love/hate thing, isn’t it?
I hope you’ll accept the challenge and plan a POWER DOWN day in your school. And, I hope you’ll tell me all about it!