Friday, June 29, 2012

Nothing doing

For the cost of sitting by the edge of the bay, doing, well, nothing, I got to see a skate's wings rhythmically slicing through the water's surface.

I got up, walked along rhe edge of the beach as the animal gracefully glided along in knee deep water.

There's no point to this story.

For the cost of sitting by the edge of the bay, doing, well, nothing, I got to see an osprey carry a live, decent sized bluefish, no doubt bringing it back to its eyrie to feed its young.

The bird hesitated as it reached the edge of the sea, banked towards us for a few yards, then arced back towards the land. We have seen the same bird several times follow the same path.

There's no moral to share.

For the cost of sitting by the edge of the bay, doing, well, nothing, I got to see a ghost crab peer out over its hole, slip back down again to kick out more sand, then mosey on out again, as though admiring his fancy digs.

Another crab ambled too close, and the first one scuttled quickly towards it, chasing it away, then stalked back into his burrow, just its eyes peering out like two tiny lollipops.

There's nothing to sell here.

A day of sitting still hardly counts as a day of education, of course, and without a lifetime of learning, I might not get the same joy from watching critters go about just going about.

Stillness matters still, despite the human noise that dominates our culture on this patch of the Earth.

How many children spend how many hours learning less under fluorescent lights than I learn doing nothing? Don't just stand there--do nothing.

I think I now know what's fundamentally wrong with an iPad replacing a piece of paper. We're confusing sleekness with sensuousness. The iPad is visually stunning as a work of human artifice, it's professional looking, it's sleek. Most of the work has already been done. A piece of paper's joy lies in its texture, its smell, its possibilities. I know my beach stories are connected to the iPad/paper disconnect, but I don't (yet) know how.
I'm going back to the beach to ponder that some more...


John T. Spencer said...

Slick, sleek apps were all the rage at #iste12


Less complicated.

The user interface took care of it for you. Drag and drop. iMovie has a billion beautiful templates to choose from.

It's a collage culture. I'll keep making my videos by hand, drawing on paper.

doyle said...

Dear John,

I'm stealing your "collage culture" phrase. =)

I suspect one of the biggest problems we're cultivating in our kids is a lack of gumption.

If anything less than sleek is seen as impoverished, then our kids will never take the time needed to master true skills.

We'll need gumption more than we need iPads when things get hairy.
And things always get hairy.

John T. Spencer said...

I've been working for over a year trying to do true, hand-drawn animation. It takes forever. I want to do a story called "Phil in the Bubble" about a kid who is taking a test and gets caught up in a bubble and leaves the classroom . . . sort-of.

I have the picture in my head, but animation is bloody hard. I mean, basic, move-the-guy-here kind of stuff. I don't think kids are given that chance to learn something really difficult and hands-on that will take years to perfect.

Slowplum said...

And people wonder why I don't rush out and buy my children an ipad/ipod/iphone/idoitforyou.

My daughter has a shelf full of sketch pads she has filled with drawings and writing and odds and sods. She observes and then channels those observations into something creative. My son reads dictionaries and builds ecosystems in his spare time. All of this done without the use or help of a gadget or app.

I realize that I am a tiny pebble in an ocean, but I take comfort in my pebbles. I allow my children to ask questions, to get bored, to discover and think for themselves. And I am rewarded so richly for it, it makes my heart full to bursting some days.

doyle said...

Dear John,

I had the joy of working with a real artist back in junior high--I was the tech guy, he was the designer/artist. We made a couple of animated films, one of which one a state award.

He was PHENOMENAL! The gruntwork was, too.

Dear Slowplum,

Great parenting! Our children need enough room to be bored now and again, to flex their brains a tad.

In the long run, your children (and the rest of us) will bebetter off for it. Thanks!

This Brazen Teacher said...

This post made me think of one of my favorite stories growing up:

"They called him Ferdinand the Fierce and all of the Banderilleros were afraid of him and the Picadores were afraid of him and the Matador was scared stiff. Ferdinand ran to the middle of the ring and everyone shouted and clapped because they thought he was going to fight fiercely and butt and snort and stick his horns around. But not ferdinand. When he got to the middle of the ring he saw the flowers in all the lovely ladies' hair and he just sat down quietly and smelled. He wouldn't fight and be fierce no matter what they did. He just sat and smelled. And the Banderilleros were mad and the Picadores were madder and the Matador was so mad he
cried because he couldn't show off with his cape and sword. So they had to take Ferdinand home.
And for all I know he is sitting there still, under his favorite cork tree, smelling the flowers just quietly.
He is very happy."

doyle said...

Dear Brazen,

My goodness, one of my all-time favorites, must have read it a thousand times--and the last illustration became visible again as I read the words.

I may need to buy another copy for class.