This is a guest post by my dear friend, Chelsea Fricker. Chelsea is a high school English teacher in Phoenix, where she likes hiking, weight lifting, reading, and laughing really, really loudly.
Every year, I teach my 16 year old students about the Dystopian genre of literature. One of the reasons why I love Dystopian literature is because it exacerbates current societal norms and augments them into a satirical and action packed story, sure to grab the attention of my reluctant hooligans.
A life hack of effectively teaching high school students is to make the content you are presenting “relatable”. For the past 3 years of teaching this unit, I incorporated movie trailers for “Divergent”, “Hunger Games”, “The Matrix”, and essentially every other Dystopian movie they may have seen. I realized that could only go so far, so I needed a more forceful and shocking approach.
After glancing over the stories we would be reading, I realized a common thread that held these stories together were their underlying theme of showing sage concern for the technology-driven world we have built for ourselves. And although Dystopias are the extreme outcomes of society, these stories teach us, that “what we make will overtake us”.
In an attempt to make my students cringe and also to better my life, I announced my month-long experiment of opting for a “dumb phone” instead of using my perfectly functioning iPhone 6. I promised them I would journal my thoughts and feelings about my experiment.
Here are the top 5 minor epiphanies I encountered on my valiant endeavor:
- My emoji-heavy texting needed to be curtailed. I never realized how I let sleepy faces and eggplants speak for my thoughts. I also realized that there were no emojis on my flip phone.
- Given my profession, I am an avid reader; however my recent bedtime story of choice was Instagram filters and double-chinned Snapchats. The week before my switch to the dumb phone, I logged reading 1.5 hours reading an actual novel per week. After switching to my dumb phone, I logged an average of 6 hours of reading an actual novel a week.
- I was essentially a circus act at my local AT&T Store. Not one, but four AT&T employees came over, not believing their eyes, or ears at my attempt to switch over from my smart phone to my flip phone. They all unanimously agreed that I am the only person under the age of 65 to voluntarily opt for a flip phone for non-financial reasons.
- I realized that some of my high school students can handle a smartphone’s constant access to social media, but those platforms can mostly be quite dangerous for them. Why, during the most insecure years of our student’s lives would we put a device in their hands that allows them to compare themselves to everyone else nearly every minute of the day? Oy.
- I woke up more refreshed every morning. I went to bed earlier because of lack of distractions, and didn’t wake up through the night to check how many likes my photo had, or lurked former friends from middle school, wondering why they were on kid #3, and why the closest thing I had to a kid was a Sour Patch Kid gummy.
Now, the million dollar question…am I going back to my smart phone?
Yes, I will; however, this month I have strengthened my clarity and time management skills, and that is a priceless outcome. I’ve learned to embrace the advancements in our society, but also embrace the “airplane mode” feature.