This is the question posed by Dean Shareski for the Ignite Your Passion for Discovery Vancouver 2016 event. I’m looking forward to hearing the 5 minute / twenty slide presentations and checking out the venue, Relish The Pub. Yet the best thing about this event is that it invites you to tap into your own curiosity and ask your own questions. It also provides a room full of the kind of people who want to have those kinds of conversations and to build their network of like-minded people.
I am curious about the outdoor play / technology use balance. I grew up in Vancouver with a plethora of outdoor activities and in an age where a key around my neck was status and the parental mantra was “Be home before it’s dark”. I spent a lot of time engaged in outdoor play as did all the kids in the neighbourhood. Cherry blossom showers. Trampolines. Puddles. Trees. Scrub. Kick the Can. Fishing. Bikes. The list of things that drew us outdoors was endless, as was the learning once we were there. It also cultivated an interest in engaging new challenges like biking to the top of Queen Elizabeth Park, getting back home along the shore at the beach before the tide came in, and later learning how to ski and paddle canoes, swim across big stretches and hike up mountains.
We are in different times where media stories of crime and danger surround parents and intensify the concerns over safety of the children in our care. Now, there is also a pressure to schedule children every advantage perceived to be needed for future success. In some cases, parents did not grow up in the culture of outdoor play and do not understand the merits. There is also the addictive edge of technology that can easily suck up hours. I find myself lost in a myriad of tasks on my iPad and iPhone and computer and deviations from the required tasks that consumes hours if I don’t make a concerted effort to look away from the screen.
I love the possibilities that technology holds for our children. Third graders can use kid friendly search engines like KidRex, take notes on Drawing Pad, generate original text illuminated with sound clips and pictures on BookCreator. The learning is profound, as is the product that they can proudly teach real audiences about their topic. I believe that using technology as a tool in education has exciting possibilities for implementing the redesigned curriculum in British Columbia and engaging kids in their learning.
I’m curious about how we help our students navigate the path towards the balance of what seem like competing priorities. The balance between screen time and outdoor play is one aspect, but it also goes beyond that. It is the balance between participating in active sports outside and taking the time to observe and reflect on nature and what is happening around us when we’re outdoors. It is engaging in playing handheld or other games for enjoyment and using technology as a tool to access new learning or convey new learning. It may be using technology outdoors to spotlight outdoor learning or make a powerful statement through nature. Technology and outdoor activity offer possibilities for learning and distraction and socialization that are important and engaging. How do we help adults and kids to realize that outdoor learning / play and technology learning / play both have a role in the healthy development and in preparing our children to live healthy, happy and productive lives?
I can’t wait to discuss it at the Ignite Night tonight. Perhaps, I’ll see you there.