I had to get my motorbike fixed today, so I went out around noon in the 40 degree heat. Before I left, I made a conscious decision to leave my phone at home… one of those things you’re sure about but aren’t sure why.
20 minutes later, I knew why.
As I sat there waiting for the guys to fix my bike, I stopped. I absorbed.
I watched the giant trees above me swing in the wind, their smaller branches and then their leaves all making their own rhythm. I watched the old lady collecting scraps of rubber from the tyre repairs places and attach them to a huge ball of rubber scraps that she balanced on the back of her motorbike. I watched the oddly proud rooster scratching about in the gravel. I watched the ebb and flow of people as they did their own things. The guy with the bundle of sugarcane for the woman who endlessly made cup after cup of juice at the cart next to me. The filthy, sweating construction workers seeking refuge in the shade and a plate of rice and pork. The complex system of grunts and nods the mechanics had as they figured out a problem with the wiring.
I was very grateful to myself, the version of me who knew I would have sat there flicking past meaningless things with my thumb like sifting for tiny fragments of gold that might, by chance, be interesting to me. Over-communicating, but failing to receive the most important information… what was going on around me at that moment.
Generations of our students are in danger of missing almost everything that happens around them. Sure, these devices are cool and they make possible all sorts of things we may never even have imagined. But, they’re also nasty little things that suck at your attention and lead to almost complete oblivion.
Make sure you teach balance, but first of all… make sure you practice it yourself.