Wednesday, March 10

Progressing Simply

A friend sent me a file of photos of Paris, France with its romantic cafes and beautiful people with sketch books and journals and sexy cigarettes— sent it to me — here — humid and nasty Texas where this morning my brown-haired daughter and I struggled through not enough sleep and drizzling rain toward school. We can't all go to France. Some of us must stay at our posts and sacrifice personal comfort so the children can attend school and learn about kinetic energy and sound waves and the propaganda of the Boston Massacre. My daughter is in the fifth grade and she is a joyful child, even on a drizzling March day when the grown-ups are sunk in sepulchral gloom. She is plainly thrilled to be alive. And she was happy to share her assignment, a PowerPoint presentation illustrating her favorite book, which she completed all by herself. She created some spectacular slides of pink glittering backgrounds complete with rainbow text effects and ending with some funny clip art. All finished with the up most confidence in its coolness and saved on her school issued flash drive.

Whatever happened to those little diorama/shadowboxes? You know, those shoe boxes that contained trees cut out of green construction paper and small plastic animals such as you'd buy in a dollar store, back when there really were dollar stores, and three yards of adhesive tape?

I know that our schools can't rightfully shield children from technological progress. When she grows up and works with teams of $200/hour designers in striped shirts and Gucci moccasins I know they will be bent over computer screens and not cardboard shoe boxes (with green cutout trees, plastic animals, and Scotch-brand tape) — it's okay.

I loved seeing all the tourist photos my friend in Paris e-mailed me from her iphone. But the other day I received a postcard from a friend who was staying in Egypt. There was only one picture on the front of the card, and the note on the back was simple, "In Egypt for the moment. Thought I'd say hi." It also had Egyptian stamps and postmarks. *Cool!*. I don't expect the march of progress to stop. I just kind of wish it didn't have to trample simplistic innocence and creativity along the way.

On second thought: I guess its kind of ironic. Laminating technological progress on my personal blog. I could make a diorama to better illustrate the point. One with a plastic grandpa on a papier-mache hill with twenty plastic cows, and cotton balls to represent snow. And a paper thought-balloon glued to his forehead that says, "God's Will."


Robin said...

Hmmm. How 'archaic' that I had my study buddy make diorama with a shoe box, plastic animals, pictures of trees cutout from mags etc. this year (5th grader). Did I help him or hurt him? Sometimes the 'old' way is good. Hands on and all that. There will be some of us, he may not, that will not reach Paris or Egypt but I encourage those who do. Your daughter is well on her way. I feel a little sad reading your post. For what is lost in the loss of simplicity.

Jo said...

There's a very good article in the recent issue of the Utne Reader

which says that people are becoming more distracted and less able to concentrate or pay attention because of technology. But is also says that it is the way of the future now, and children need to keep up with the technology, so it's a double-edged sword.

It sounds as if your daughter's project was wonderful, and she should be very proud of it. Please tell her Jo says, "Good for you!" :-)

Katy said...

Great article Jo. And Alex's presentation was awesome if not a little hard to read with all the clashing colors.

I really do see the double-edged sword in all of this. Like everything else we have to make choices.