EP KIDS

Electronically Pacified Kids

 

I have been teaching for 19 years now. When I first started teaching and coaching my students were engaged. I would create a lab or an experiment and they were totally tuned into what we were doing… Sure I had the “slugos” who wouldn’t do anything, you have those kids every year; but it was like one or two… Today I feel like no matter what I do, no matter how cool I try to spin it, no matter how unique and special I try to make them feel, I am not as engaging as the cell phone.  Today I compete directly with snapchat and twitter minute by minute.   I even compete with the parents who want to FaceTime with their kids in the middle of the day… yes that’s a thing now… I guess waiting till you get home is old fashioned.  I compete for kid’s attention daily and it’s getting harder every year.

District people are constantly talking about engagement and getting kids excited about science, or anything for that matter. How do we get buy in from kids so they learn?  Well, I will tell you this: It is not going to happen when all I have to work with is a hand full of old expo markers and some ancient lab equipment… Even the computers we are using are not that cool anymore. I mean who wants to type when I can text…?

If I do an experiment that is really cool and I find out by the end of the day I am trending on twitter –  I consider that a win…  That means to me at least I was interesting enough to be added to their group conversations. Oh but wait.  Cell phones are not allowed in my class…..ever….. Yea that doesn’t matter. There is always a kid filming you nearly every day.  You should write that down or save a memo in your phone…  Don’t ever assume that what you say or do is not being filmed by a teenager.

I have been a student of my craft for many years now. I can tell you without a doubt the kid who isn’t obsessed with their phone is usually a better student.  That is why I take 5 minutes out of every day and police the phones… It’s a huge time waster, but I believe that it’s better to have 45 minutes of direct contact with no interference than 50 minutes of on and off engagement… It makes my job unessesiarily more difficult, but I know it is in the best interest of the students.  I fully realize that many have given up the cell phone fight. But if you look at the research, the Electronic Pacifier has got to go.  We have created a generation of (EP) Electronic Pacifier Kids who are lacking the skills of kids 20 years ago.

This year has a been a particular difficult year. Kids are coming to my doorstep with little to no coping skills and need constant attention.  I have no doubt these kids have been raised by an iPad rather than a parent, and the universal answer has always been a matter of screen time in their home life.  For the record, I don’t let my girls use tablets longer than an hour a day. They get some screen time, but it’s not the norm.  I rather they play with Barbie’s or the mud outside. Granted, I have little ones. But still, I have found that the less screen time I let them have, the less behaviors issues I deal with at home.

If I was king for a day I would  universally ban cell phones in schools for students… You don’t need them!! Give me one good reason why they are a must have? Safety? I survived high school just fine without one.  I am so thankful I grew up in the world where my entire life wasn’t laid out on social media and my self-confidence didn’t come from how many trends I got, or how many followers I had. These kids will never have that luxury of being anonymous.  They will always be searchable. I truly feel for them in this regard.

I had a girl pass a note in class last month… It was the first time I have caught a kid passing a legitimate paper note in over 6 years… I let her keep it…  It was a nostalgic moment.

 

Mike Vargas

My name is Mike Vargas. I am a proud recipient of the 2014 ASTA Arizona HS Science Teacher of the Year award and I am a 2016 AEF Arizona Teacher of the Year Ambassador for Excellence. I earned my undergraduate degree from Northern Arizona University where I was Vice – President of the Associated Students, a recipient of the Gold Axe, and President’s Prize awards. I am an advocate for physics first instruction and I am leading a movement to double the current number of physics teachers in Arizona in the next 5 years. I teach high school physics at Pinnacle High School in the Paradise Valley Unified School District.

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