Today I did something I have not done in eleven years. I went to school and taught. Contrary to many of my pre-conceptions education is exciting now. Students are still required to be academic, so I am partially right, and Math is still taught with books, but strangely, the computer is available for every child. Laptops have replaced those old CPU’s and Monitors, and there is a freedom in teaching using the computer as a tool in the classroom. Somewhere out there is a Steven Jobs currently working computers as a sixth grader. Or the guy who started Facebook is looking down the barrel of competition. We are all just on this planet to learn. It is a kind of freedom we have not seen since the “Age of Reason.” And that was roughly two to three hundred years ago.
I have cancer, which I found out last week was in remission. The drugs they used on me were not the same treatment they gave to my brother-in-law just twenty short years ago. It was the same diagnosis, but a vastly different treatment. I went to my Oncologist last week and she told me I was in remission, which I have told anyone who will listen. Paul Tsongas died twenty years ago, unbelievably, and I firmly believe that if the drugs I was given were given to him, he would be here today.
So, I have two revelations. School is different than it was eleven years ago when I retired for medical reasons. Medicine is progressing and cancer is less a killer than it has been. Two good things I was wrong about, and I do not mind admitting my intransigeance. I still lean towards real books over the Kindle or the phone, or the computer, but I have to admit one thing, I am of retirement age, and things are vastly different than they were in 1954, or 1964, or 1974, etc. I am learning. I still prefer photographs to computer photos. I still would rather work in the darkroom than many other places, and I love the feel of negatives on my fingers.
So, I am learning. And today, I learned that computers can help the child in the classroom. I kind of thought they still did Fortran, Basic, and Cobol. They do much more, while using those languages as a base from which to grow. I cannot look modernity in the eye quite as casually as I did before. Children are learning and they know a great deal more than I do or did. That is the good thing.
Here I sit listening to my 33 1/3 records, specifically the best of the Supremes, I have a date with my darkroom, and I intend to cook dinner over a wood fire in the barbeque. But, I have to admit to the supremacy of the CD, the difficulty of working in a darkroom, and the widespread use of a George Forman grill. Life will never be quite as difficult as I made it out to be. There is a certain finality to the passing of institutional hegemony. For those who do not know that word, it means preponderant influence or authority. I had to take that out of Webster’s, the big book, not the handy text. Even the computer did not have that one. But, it is the right word for my treatise.
Thus, here I am admitting that my love of historical solutions to small problems is probably a waste of time. It is not going to change me. I will still think a book made out of paper is better than a Kindle version. I will still prefer photographs over prints. I will still cook on a wood fire over even charcoal, let alone electricity. But I have to admit that you guys may have a point. Modernity is here to stay. I am embarassed it took me so long to figure it out.
Tomorrow, I go to a school and learn from totally different student body. I will still believe that most of their academics are rooted in historical references. But, they believe in their computers. And that is not such a bad thing. They have an outlook that may just conquer cancer and heart disease. Two of my many diseases. I do not believe that they are going to cure my Parkinson’s though. Give it time, they will. Those kids are smart enough to do a bit of everything.