The sixth grade class at The Anderson School will soon begin their last unit of the year, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451. Bradbury wrote 451 as a warning of a future where people willingly trade in their books for television. T.V. shows, says Bradley, are “making us dumber. They don’t give us information, they give us facts, factoids.” Fast forward to 2012, where our lives are full of smart phones, iPads, and computers. They don’t compare, says Bradley, to books. “Nothing a computer can do can compare to a book. You can’t really put a book on the Internet…All the computer can give you is a manuscript. People don’t want to read manuscripts. They want to read books. Books smell good. They look good. You can press it to your bosom. You can carry it in your pocket.”
It is in this spirit that the sixth grade class will be embarking on a “Tech Turn-off Week,” from May 29-June 3. Students are asked to turn off their computer games, their smart phones, their iPads and e-books. They’ll be reflecting on their feelings, anxieties, and the activities that fill their tech-free lives.
Of course, some technology keeps us safe, and is required. I’m turning off my technology, too, but I’ll keep my phone with me, in case my two-year-old should need me. Any school-related computer work is allowed, too, such as research or typed reports.
This tech turn-off will allow students to to reflect on the role of technology in their experience of the world, and how it affects their identities. This week, we’re asking students to log the time they spend on their various pieces of technology, and we encourage you to do the same.
We hope you’ll join us in this challenge. To learn more about why we’re doing this, please visit http://www.commercialfreechildhood.org/screenfreeweek/why.htm