It’s in the Cybersaftey lessons we teach, it’s in the email etiquette tutorials and it’s in the skype wiki how’s.
We do not communicate with people online the same way we do in “real life”.
As I watch the students in my classroom and their proficiency with technology I wonder what will come of this all. I worry for who these students will be as people who are developing alongside advances in technology.
I was lucky enough to attend a staff meeting about empathy a few years ago. We were presented with the rather grim knowledge that empathy is endangered.
“Born For Love”, a novel by Maia Szalavitz and Bruce D. Perry, M.D., Ph.D., was offered as a resource to find out more. I immediately hopped on fishpond to get myself a copy that I could highlight and scribble in. This novel is a heavy read in parts if you’re time poor, but well worth it.
Sure enough, amongst unstable communities and families, the increased mobility of populations, the separation of education, work and living environments, technology was explored as a reason why empathy is endangered.
Amongst this, portable devices, screen time and the increasing trend of screens in bedrooms were discussed.
“All of this adds up to a lot more time spent with things, distracted by media, and in isolation – and a lot less time face-to-face with people – building relationships.”(On page 296, for those of you playing at home.)
This, I’m sure is not a shock to anyone. It is, however, something I wanted to be able to communicate with my students. We have discussed what love means in homeroom and spoke about my personal mantra “act with love”, but I have never ventured to tackle empathy and human connection with my students, as I wanted to do it justice.
That was until I found this clip. It’s been making the rounds and you will most likely have seen it. Warning: there is a curse word in there (b*stard). It was perfect for my purpose as it managed to get the message across in a powerful way. I intend to use this again whenever I have the opportunity.
It worked so well, there was silence in the room for the last few minutes before the period 1 bell went.
“Just one real connection is all it can take to show you the difference that being there can make.”