By Guy Nahmiach
As we sat there in the dark with the power out and the Internet down, we struck up an amazing conversation that started with one topic and morphed into memories and story telling, the value of just sitting there and interacting face to face without being interrupted by email alerts and text messages. The ability to truly listen and to be heard. The value of a face to face conversation.
When the kids were small I would ask them every day after school, “What did you learn today that you didn’t know yesterday?” While Mrs. Kiefer’s Jedediah Smith adventures bored all of us to tears, you can be sure when Dylan came out of Bill Gold’s class, he was set for hours of conversations.
And then life got in the way. Face to face became face to screen and the art of conversation has become an exchange of abbreviated words and mysterious acronyms exchanged by a quick movement of your thumbs.
Everitt Middle School principal Jeff Gomez once reminded me that as kids we socialized and developed friendships while walking to and from school. We talked, joked and laughed as we learned about one another. Sometimes we ended up at friends’ homes for an afternoon snack and sometimes they at ours.
Today, kids are picked up or dropped off by parents or buses, whisked off only minutes after the bell. They spend the day walking from class to class with two minutes in between each, 17 minutes to eat, gym every third day and art and music on the same cycle.
Of course once picked up by parents or bus and dropped off at home, the screen time is magnified and isolation is maximized until dinner time.
When do kids have any down time, time to develop friendships and conversation skills? Otherwise it’s one-word answers to a majority of questions. If I never hear the word “fine” I’ll be … just fine.
Summer break is supposed to be a time where students let go and recharge their batteries. Sleep in late, stay up late, read books that are completely irrelevant to any curriculum. Hang out at the skatepark with their best friends and meet new kids from other schools and neighborhoods. Perhaps kids from different cultures and demographic families. Listen to music and exchange views and ideas about life in general.
Instead, they’ve been signed to soccer, swimming and camp to develop their code-writing skills. All very valuable pastimes, but together rob the precious time off these kids have.
It’s important to note that my mom reminds me that every generation talks about how it was better in the good ‘ol days and while my kids tell me how much more efficient they are being in with their way of communicating, I can’t help but feel like they are missing out of the enjoyment of a good face to face exchange of views.
Next, we are in the initial stages of rescheduling school start times. Studies show that older students do much better with later starts and younger kids are ready to go at the crack of dawn. We’ve known this for a while, but have always been told that everything revolves around the transportation system. So not as hard as getting a train moving on the Gold Line, but pretty close. Meaning that the powers that be have finally acknowledge this need and are meeting to see how we can make this happen.
I recently joined the board at the Outdoor Lab Foundation. For those of you that attended Outdoor Lab in sixth grade, you’ll remember the amazing friendships and life-long lessons you learned there. I’d love to hear your stories. If you were a high school leader please text or call me at 303-999-5789 or email me at guy@NostalgicHomes.com. We are forming an alumni group that will help with reunions and goals for the future of the program. With sixth grade moving to middle school this coming year, it’ll be interesting to see Outdoor Lab transform from a elementary school right of passage to a middle school start-up of friendship building.
Finally, goodbye to an amazing friend who left us much too soon. Rest in peace Lou, you will always be in our hearts.
Next month’s column will follow up on new principals in our district, WRHS baseball coaches getting involved in local politics and updates from Dr. Glass.
As always, thanks for reading.
Contact Guy Nahmiach at 303-999-5789 or Guy@NostalgicHomes.com.