Kids coming in through the middle school gate probably cringe on Monday mornings. They know I might ask them what they did on the weekend. As you might imagine, they often shrug and say “nothing.” That’s a common middle school response. I will then mime the actions of someone using a video game controller. More often than not they sheepishly nod, confirming what I suspected.
Seeing that pattern, the following article, from leadership development expert Time Elmore, struck home. (And, of course, I am glad he was not talking about school as a prison.)
Not long ago, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, wrote and posted a letter to his newborn daughter. If you read it, you’ll find it interesting that he specifically encourages her (and her older sister) to “go outside and play.”
Wow. That advice seems to be at odds with the empire Mark has built.
Isn’t it interesting that tech icons such as Zuckerberg or Steve Jobs seem to have given the same advice? Jobs, who, upon releasing the Apple iPad, immediately gave an interview to the New York Times and told them he’s not giving one of those tablets to his kids. They need to be healthy and play outside. If you follow other technology icons from the Silicon Valley, they all seem to say the same thing. Get out of your indoor prison.
Are you hearing a pattern from these people?
Even technology wizards—perhaps especially tech wizards—know the secret of living well is to get off a screen for the better part of a day. Play. Go outside. Be with people face to face. Talk. Listen. Run. Walk. Tumble. Skin your knee.
The Number One Invention That Changed Us in the 20th Century
Recently, I had a conversation with an educator in West Virginia. As we conversed, he mentioned an article he’d read about the greatest life-changing innovation of the last century. When he asked me what I thought it was, I responded with predictable items, such as the personal computer, the Internet, or the cell phone.
These made the top ten, but were not at the top of the list.
Can you guess what it was?
The air conditioner.
Yep. It was air conditioners. Just think about it. Once we had air-conditioned homes and offices, our time outside was reduced drastically. It was always too hot or humid or uncomfortable. We like comfort. So, we stay inside. We “veg” in front of a screen, sitting, staring and sedentary for hours. Inside. It’s the stuff that makes us unhealthy. And we, human beings, are inside for long, long periods of time.
I sure am these days.
Technology’s Rightful Place
Like most of us, I appreciate new technology. I am using my MacBook Pro right now. I don’t want to miss new iterations or products when they’re released. But I am reminded of their place today. Technology should be a servant—not a master. It should not force us to stay inside and be sedentary.
So, as we live our lives (as adults) and as we lead our students, let’s remember the timeless values such as getting up from our seated position and going outside. Maybe even playing. Who knows, it may be the most valuable life-changing act we display for the emerging generation today.