One of the most powerful units we ever worked on in our 11th grade English coursework was the Transcendentalists' Unit. Through Emerson and Thoreau, we gained some powerful insights into our sense of self , our "hobgoblins", and what living deliberately is all about.
After reading Thoreau's Walden, we took on personal projects in which we chose a way to "Simplify." The choice was up to the individual. Some gave up their cell phones for 24 hours, some for a week. One student opted not to speak for a month, instead choosing only to listen. Another student abandoned video games and television for a weekend. Still another only sat on the floor or stood.
Then, they wrote about their experiences.
Many of them noted an increased awareness of not only themselves but of others. All noticed an increase in productivity in coursework because, as one student put it, "I didn't have anything else to distract me, so I just did my homework."
As adults, we may smile indulgently and probably with a hint of superiority at this. "Of course you get more done when you don't sit there on that computer all night! Tsk."
What are we doing? Are we not also iTethered? Are we not also pinning, tweeting, posting, liking and commenting as though our lives depended on it?
I'll be unplugging for the holidays.
No Facebook, no Twitter, no Pinterest, no blogging, no emails. No educational videos on YouTube, no TED Talks, no Google Hangouts, and no checking stats or replying to comments on this blog (at least not for a week or so, please still comment!).
I'm a little freaked, and I haven't even started. : / Come January, I'll let you know what happened.
In the meantime, I wish you all peace and ease of stress. I wish you joy. I wish you happiness and health. But most of all, I wish you contentment--a commodity so much harder to come by.
Oh, (here's the "shameless" part) and if you get a chance, please Like our Facebook page: Transparent Teaching of Adolescents. Even better, if you've read the book, please consider rating/reviewing it on Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Get the word out that there is a way to work happily with teenagers!