Archive | 3:52 pm

Children of the Porn

13 Oct

Children of the Porn?

Porn. noun – creative activity (writing or pictures or films etc.) of no literary or artistic value other than to stimulate sexual desire

One day I was working on my computer in class when I discovered that one of the websites that I often use for information and research was blocked by our school’s security system. Ever since our school became wired for the internet our school’s security system was often being modified by our computer systems supervisor in an attempt to keep students from accessing certain internet sites that were deemed inappropriate by either members of the Board of education or the supervisor himself. This however was one site that I had found very useful and I was becoming extremely frustrated at my no longer being allowed access.

Within a few minutes, a student who must have been sensing my frustration, came to my aid and said, “Here Mr. P. let me help.” Now this was not a student that I would have characterized as a computer genius by any stretch of the imagination. In fact I wouldn’t even have guessed that he had an imagination, let alone one that could be stretched. And to be perfectly honest with you, although I hate to admit it, I thought he was an idiot. And in my defense, I say this only because he acted like an idiot all day, every day, in class. So you can imagine my surprise when he sat down at my computer and with the dexterity of a seasoned executive secretary worked my keyboard like Bill Gates on crack until with a point and a click he was on the internet and accessing my website. “There ya go Mr. Picone. You’re all set.” And off he went. I was amazed. Here was a student who showed no particular propensity for learning anything from reading to writing to covering his nose when he sneezed or keeping his hands to himself when girls walked by, and yet he had broken through our school’s crack security system in seconds flat.

From that day on I began to take more time noticing what my students were up to when they weren’t focusing on class work. And these were students who were considered lower level, lower track students. Students who were unlikely to do well on the basic skills test or who demonstrated little or no success with any kind of school work whatsoever. So what were these students doing with their free time? They were accessing and utilizing any and all forms of 21st century technology with the greatest of ease! They were using computers. They were surfing the internet. They were programming iPods and using cell phones and accessing complicated menus. (At least I thought of them as complicated) They were reading directions, or listening to others who were tutoring them, on how to use these devises and then remembering what they had learned and putting that knowledge to practical use. Imagine that?! They were texting each other with lightning speed in a shorthand language that resembled ancient hieroglyphics more than it did modern day English.

It was obvious that my underachieving students had skills, intelligence and problem solving abilities. They had everything that any student needs to be successful in school. So why did they behave like cretins, idiots and morons when they were in class? Apparently the world had changed and no one told school!

These students were learning all of the skills they would need in grammar school and by the time they’d reached middle school and their teenage years education was passé. It served no purpose for them to do more of the same mundane work over and over again at a slightly higher level. They had all of the skills necessary and needed to access and use the technology of the future by the time they were 10 or 11 years old…maybe even sooner. And they are being called to enter a brave new world by a Pied Piper that many adults just aren’t hearing and where they are becoming the new and improved children of the porn.

I call them this because what is it that they are doing with their skills of the future? Are they using them to create new and better technology? Do many of them even understand how the technology works? No, they are simply accessing and using the technology. And boy do they know how to access and use!  They are texting and blogging and tweeting mindless gossip and sarcasm and rumor. They are shopping on-line and perusing merchandise, accessing social networks like My Space and Facebook where they post photos and comment on photos and look at more photos. They visit porn sites and create their own porn, download music, watch videos, check sports scores, place bets. They are doing just about everything there is to do of “NO LITERARY OR ARTISTIC VALUE OTHER THAN TO STIMULATE DESIRE” and it sure beats what we have to offer in school doesn’t it: Pencils and paper, books and chalkboards, writing and penmanship? And constant testing to prove that you can use these archaic tools. Schools are still so 1950. They represent the 20th century where by 20th century I mean 1950! Schools are so 5 minutes ago that I should have ended this sentence 5 minutes ago and moved on to something new.

We as a society have created a new generation of young consumers who we begin marketing to and for, almost literally at birth. We want children to buy and want and desire and spend and go into debt or plunge their parents into debt as soon as they possibly can. And all this in the endless hope of “stimulating the economy”.

Their minds are sharp and they learn well, perhaps even better than any generation that has come before them, but they are not learning what we have to teach them in our public schools. They are learning what we have to teach them in cyberspace and on the internet and through the medium of commercials and advertisements and they can even do it all on their cell phones. Their indoctrination is portable!

Schools aren’t. Children are learning the commerce of desire, broadcast and beamed and googled and texted to them with the speed and brilliance of modern technology. Most of which is not available to them in public schools, especially the poorer ones of which there are many. My school still had film strips available for teacher use in 2010! And you’d thought they’d all melted in the projector back in the 70s!

Perhaps I’m sounding a little old and out of touch, after all I have been referencing the title to a book and movie from the 1980s…but sadly, I have friends, and I certainly know older adults as I’m sure you do too, who cannot grasp today’s technology and who don’t want to. Yet many of these same people are up in arms because so many of today’s children can’t pass a 3 hour exam about algebra, geometry,  English grammar and sentence construction, while using a #2 pencil, scratch paper and 30 year old calculators. (apparently using computers, touch screens and modern calculators would be cheating)

So let me reference another source from my past, The great philosopher, Yogi Berra, who once said,

“It’s getting late early out there!”

Parents used to complain and worry about television and its potential to affect the thoughts and ideas and attention spans of the young people who were growing up watching it. And once upon a time rock music and radio were the culprits that were corrupting America’s youth. But if those two mediums were affecting children at the speeds of sound and light then the internet is operating on today’s youthful brains at warp speed and beyond. Schools can’t compete with that. Our schools, especially at the middle and secondary levels are becoming the silent movies of our time and if we are not inclined to modernize them at the same rate with which we are modernizing our society then soon we might find that the children of the porn will have no use for them at all, nor I’m afraid will the sequel, “The Grandchildren of the Porn!”



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