I had an awesome Tuesday. In fact, I accomplished two things in one night that I consider to fall in the epic moment category. I had the opportunity to see Paul McCartney play at Fenway Park. Yeah, I know. And, if you haven’t already guessed, I am going to present a correlation between this moment and current technologies, both in education and our daily lives.
But first, a little narrative…
My brother and his wife convinced me late Saturday night that I must attend and that I would regret not going. They had the opportunity to see Paul at Fenway in 2009 and recalled that it was an experience of epic proportions. I didn’t take much convincing. The next day I purchased a ticket. I will never reveal the price. Ever.
When I arrived at the show, I followed the signs to my section, B6. I walked down an old, steel staircase that was probably an original piece in the Fenway construction. At the end of the staircase was an opening. In the opening I could see the Fenway Green and subtle sunlight peeking through in the foreground. As I got closer to the door I realised that I was underneath the left field foul pole. And to the right of it was the Green Monster. Undoubtedly the most famous left field in all of baseball.
I walked through the door and placed my left hand on the Green Monster facade. I was touching history. So many great moments happened around that great wall of baseball. And I was touching it. I continued down to the field and stood at the foot of the Green Monster and looked up at its intimidating height. I slapped my hand against it to hear it echo. In this echo you could hear over one hundred years of heartache and triumph.
But I wasn’t here to see a baseball field; I was here to see a Beatle. Sir Paul.
I arrived at my seat and waited for the show to begin. My seat was roughly in the same spot that a left fielder
would play in the bottom of the ninth, one out, man on third. As I turned and looked at my surroundings, I again realized how lucky I was and how few have gotten to enjoy this vantage point. The house music stopped and soon after Paul was on stage. The roar of Fenway launched into a frenzy that could only be rivaled by a David Ortiz home run. And amidst the cheering and repressed Beatlemania, I noticed something. Everyone had their phone out and raised in the air, including myself.
As Paul finished, “Eight days a Week” I noticed that the phones in the air persisted. I snapped a few more pictures, but eventually put my phone away. As I did this, a few things came to mind. Have we gotten to the point that we attend events simply for others to see? Do we really ever experience an event if we are only half there, while the other half manages broadcasting on social media? Can I really say that I saw Paul McCartney if I watched 75% of it through my iPhone screen?
As these questions traversed through my mind, I briefly reflected on modern experiences. Who am I here for, myself, or my audience? While I agree that sharing what we do is, as Dean Shareski put it, “our moral imperative” and a great way of connecting people to experiences, I find it hard to really experience a moment, a presenter, or, as Louis CK pointed out, Jesus coming back to tell people everything while I’m playing the role of broadcast journalist.
“Nobody takes in life unless it comes through this(referencing his phone)”
-Louis CK, On Conan O’Brien
So is the above statement true? Are we missing out on life, nature, and people while immersed in the world of social media, real-time reporting, and on demand conversations? Similarly, are some of our students missing out on learning important skill sets or the experience of getting lost in a book because they are seeing it all through a digital lens? Would I have been able to compose such a detailed recollection of my epic Tuesday night had I been glued to my phone’s screen? Or, am I doubling my experience by engaging my mind in two worlds at once?
This is the conversation I would like to evolve, and that needs to happen about technology in the classroom. Let’s move the rhetoric away from which device is better and how kids can use social media to change the world, to how can we leverage new and emerging technologies to enhance and amplify student learning while experiencing, absorbing and processing the ride.