EDITORS NOTE

Spin while you’re fidgetting

Simon_Lewis_pp.jpg

Back in the day, if a child played with a toy in class the teacher would first flatten his head and, secondly, confiscate (if the teacher had a young child) or smash the toy. Good times.

Today our kids have fidget spinners in class along with their cellphones and bank cards. We had yo-yos, diablos and comic books, but we only dared take them out at lunch break. Our parents never had to tell us ‘screen time is over for today, boy’, although back then we had one TV, and the rest of the screens were on the doors to keep out flies and mozzies.

A door-to-door salesman sold my parents a copy of the Cadillac World Encyclopedia in 1977, and for years I held onto it as a fount of great knowledge. Its 3 000 pages were beautiful and cutting-edge in 1977, but they were somewhat defunct by the 1990s. Today, at the touch of a button my son can look up a thousand facts about any country, maths problem or famous movie he chooses, translate a sentence into 70 languages or watch Bohemian Rhapsody or Weird Al’s take on the rock classic. Updated daily. The speed and power of knowledge available to our children is breathtaking and will make them far smarter than us... but at what cost?

Is the life our children lead better than our own childhood when we spent every day climbing trees and eating mud down by the river? That is, of course, the glorious, rose-tinted memory we hold of our youth, forgetting how our parents moaned at us for being glued to Barbapapa, He-Man: Masters of the Universe, Knight Rider and Atari games?

Back to the point: is it right that kids have fidget spinners in class?

Well, when you consider the psychopathy of some of the teachers who ruled our lives and terrorised us in the early days, I’m inclined to say let’s give it a try and see what happens. If some of my mates from school had fidget spinners in their hands during classes it might have eased the ants in their pants and helped them to focus on the lessons... or stopped them from whacking other kids on the back of the head with their ruler every time the teacher turned to scratch knowledge onto the blackboard.

Fidget spinners might not work for all kids but, thankfully, we are moving away from the sheep mentality that most of today’s leaders grew up with. So let’s go with it for now. After all, there’s seldom universal approval on any trend, subject, precedent or president, so we have to roll with the punches, try, experiment, innovate and learn. Especially as we get older! When you feel that things are not as they should be (such as your kids no longer climbing trees - tsk, tsk), then why not put down your own screens, stop soapboxing about the past and get out and climb that tree yourself. Kids (and adults) are remarkably quick to follow when a leader rolls up their sleeves and gets dirty.

 

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