There is something very nice about being able to “unplug” from technology and return to nature. One of my family’s favorite traditions is to go up to my in-laws’ cabin and get away for a weekend or two each Summer. We love it so much, we always try for 2-3 visits per year, if not more. Now this isn’t a cabin that is more house-like with all the major amenities like satellite T.V., Internet connectivity, paved roads, etc., this is a rugged cabin where yes there is power and plumbing, but that’s about it. We have to travel up a bumpy dirty trail, I guess it is a road but it’s not frequently graded by the city or county so it feels more trail like, and then we finally arrive to this, a wonderful relaxing break from all things “connected” for the duration of our stay.
One of my favorite parts of coming to the cabin is the chance to truly unplug and not worry about my email, current RSS subscriptions I haven’t had a chance to read, other online planning for events I’m involved with, but take an opportunity to sit back and enjoy some family time. My daughter knows she can’t play iPad, which usually means watching a few episodes of her favorite PBS Kids shows, and she is perfectly fine with it because she gets to explore some awesome nature! We hike, throw rocks in the creek that flows by the cabin, pick wild flowers, and play card games (after little brother goes to bed so he doesn’t try to eat/destroy the cards). We have a blast and I really miss it all once we head back down the mountain to civilization.
The amazing John Spencer recently wrote about something similar on his site Education Rethink about not having an app for that. He mentioned that his family has designated off-screen times and that it forces them to interact with the “real world” and not just the online fun that we create for ourselves. And what is his reason for being so hard on his family and not allowing them the freedom to be creative in a digital manner, “I want them to know that the world is round.” What? Can’t you learn that from Wikipedia or a Google search or looking at online pictures? Yes, all of those things can help one to learn about the world, but here’s an even better way to learn about the world, GO LIVE IN IT! Go explore. Go outside and play.
No, not like that. Go outside and play with others and learn what the world “feels” like, what it “smells” like, what it “tastes” like (I do not condone the act of eating things that will either make you sick or kill you, but a little dirt or grass here or there is good for you, right?) enjoy the “real world” and not just through pictures.
John goes on to talk about the fact that his kids play pretend and even get into sibling fights over nothing important, but the typical sibling fights. But one of the absolute best lines in the entire post (you really should go and read the entire thing, after you finish reading this post first, duh) is his last line, “it was augmented reality in a way that you can’t find on a screen.” I love technology and all the amazing things it can do you us and education, but it can’t show us the real-world things of this world better than actually going outside and living can.
With all of this said, I think I want to add a new tag to ETB, Analog, to help us all remember some of the great things in this life that aren’t digital. I love a lot of analog tools, in fact I was recently asked to speak to a group of educators about some of my favorite tools I use on a daily basis and I couldn’t help but talk about my favorite index cards (yes I have a favorite) and one of my favorite pens (yes you read that right, pens as in multiple favorites, I blame Myke and Brad of the Pen Addict Podcast for this one, go listen and you’ll see why). Many of those in attendance seemed a little confused because I was here to talk to them about some of my favorite tools and I am the “tech guy” and yet I’m talking about analog stuff? Yep and I can’t help it. Some of my most used tools are in fact analog and I LOVE it! So I will be taking some time to review and write about some of these items and I hope you’ll be willing to read along and maybe even go out and give them a try, you never know, some of these analog tools may become some of your favorite tools too!