Sunday, April 23, 2017

High tech clamming, or why it's OK to reject the latest edugadgets

I went clamming yesterday, a dreary mid-April day, wearing shorts and sandals, while bundled up above the waist in multiple layers, anchored by an Irish sweater knit on the Aran Islands, made for weather like this.

I used a simple clam rake that has worked well for years, designed to scritch the bay's muck, allowing me to get enough clams to feed a few folks for a day or two.

A bit after I started, soon after the tide had turned, another clammer showed up in a full neoprene wetsuit, sporting a commercial bull rake.
"How many you'd get," amiably asked.

He wasn't satisfied with that, and ambled over to my bucket to see. He let me know he got five in the short time he was there. His bull rake did work faster. It requires a bit more strength, and does a bit more damage. If "enough" is your goal, the bull will get you there faster, but since my goal is clamming, something I love to do, I have no need to save time.
"Aren't you cold?"
"No--a bit warmer than February."
He looked at me askew, looked down at his full neoprene wetsuit, then looked back at me and unzipped the top. "Come to think of it, I'm a bit too warm."

Now there have been days when I would have envied his fancy clamming clothes, but today was not one of them. My old wool sweater was made for days like this.

I wished him luck, put back the smallest and the largest clams I had  back into the mud at the edge of the bay (a practice I started years ago--that way I know there will always be clams), and walked away.

"i" in iPad does not stand for "infant."
Image by Steve Paine via Flickr

Before I adopt any new technology (and clam rakes and neoprene both count), I want to know if adopting it will, in any way, reduce increase overall happiness or well-being, for me, and perhaps even more importantly, everybody else.

Not my efficiency.
Not my net worth.
Not my students' test scores.
Not my attractiveness.
Not my credit score.

Not anything beyond a very basic question first:
Will this tool improve joy?

The question is a difficult one for many of us, not so much because our limited imaginations do not foresee the consequences to both us and others down the line, though that is an issue--rather, too many of us no longer allow ourselves to live for joy.

Or even know what joy means anymore.

If you know what you want, you're a lot more likely to find it.


Unknown said...

Clamming is an odd thing to love but love it I do. I have kept the family clamming spot secret for many years hoping to keep the hoards away. It is only recently that I realize nobody is even remotely interested in the spot.

I don't use a rake. I clam in summer when the tide is exactly right feeling in the mud with my bare feet and digging with my hands. There are lots of clams and I love finding each one of

doyle said...

Dear Jacqueline,

That sounds even better than raking, and lower tech.

(It's rare when anyone is on my spot now--I used to worry about others, but now I wish there were more "others" digging in the mud, especially young ones. It's hard not to fall in love with a mudflat once you get to know it.)

Thanks for your words!


Jenny said...

I read this and wondered about the decisions I make about technology in my classroom. I am determined not to use technology for technology's sake. But is it about joy? I hesitated as I read, worried that joy isn't driving my decisions. I'm still not completely certain (I rarely ever am about anything) but I think joy is a goal in most, if not all, decisions I make in my classroom. If learning isn't joyful then we're doing it wrong.

Mary Ann Reilly said...

A wise post, Michael. It's important to not lose sight of why you do something. As I read I thought how the price on joy cannot be calculated. I'm guessing the person in the wet suit might have felt a bit foolish--overdressed. BTW, the image of the infant is creepy.

Science in the City said...

I love this, in both my personal life and my classroom. It is so easy to get caught up in the newest and greatest, without really thinking through the implications, and why we are doing it. Whether it is really bringing improvement.

I just found your blog and will definitely be coming back. Great to read your thoughtful reflections