I’m an adult. I’m a teacher. I’m a parent.
I’m both stupid and irrelevant, a relic of time gone by when adults were necessary to tell kids what to do. Kids don’t need us now. They’ve got YouTube.
“Why do I have to learn that?” my students say, referring to stacks of textbooks that never leave their locker. I don’t give textbooks. I hope my seven-year old will never know what a textbook is. Kids don’t want to read, they want to watch videos.
My son’s no different. He’s busy right now “learning strategy on YouTube.” I tried to keep screens away as long as possible. I was the last parent to bring video games into the household, just like my parents were the last to allow MTV or get a microwave.
“How do you heat up spaghetti?” My first roommate didn’t know.
“You put it in the bottom of a pan with a little water and stir.” Avoiding technology taught me what I needed to know in the event all microwaves suddenly stopped working during an alien invasion.
I tell Declan about the days video games weren’t even invented. When they finally were, someone gave us Pong. I turned out alright, even without a microwave.
It was only a matter of time before karma took hold. I crusade for technology in schools, so I finally got overrun by tech at home. A kind soul said, “You don’t have a gaming system?” with the type of disbelief reserved for situations in developing nations. He gifted us one of his old ones.
Then, one of my editors gave me her unused iMac after I spilled peach salsa on mine. Google fixed it for me, and now Declan “shares the white one.” He is in tech heaven. I love watching him whiz through tech and learn. Sometimes he teaches me a new shortcut or feature on a program I never knew was there.
Lately, he’s fallen in love with a YouTube science sensation and a video game guru.
The science channel resulted in the mixing of many households things that should never be mixed unless you have a lot of time to clean, but it was good learning. I questioned the value of the video game channel.
He insisted it was fine. “I’m learning strategy!”
Turns out, he was learning math, symmetry, geometric manipulation, basic engineering, advanced planning, and the spelling of some pretty amazing pop-up words.
Then he asked, “Mom, can we make a YouTube channel? I want to do it just like him.”
Making a good YouTube channel’s no joke. I’ve been meaning to learn video and sound production for a while–just for class, but it’s a useful skill in general–it’s where learning is going, and I know I should take part.
I stumbled upon some amazing teens with high-level production channels. One had a Back to School advice video I’ll play in class. She was sponsored–making money for doing things she loved–it’s quality stuff and useful to me. These are tech skills that are not only fun, but employable. It’s ironic. Some of these successful teens are probably flunking their vocab quizzes and standardized tests like I’m flunked my quest to learn video production thus far in life.
Time to learn. Pride is at stake.
There’s only one solution–YouTube. While Declan figures out strategy, I find tutorials. I know can do it! The world of learning is on the other side of my phone, iPad, and keyboard.
I realize something. I’ve replaced traditional courses with YouTube just like my students and son will replace me. I have nothing to offer. They can use Skype, Google, or YouTube. Parents, teachers, and adults have become passé. I get a little nostalgic. Sad even.
I try to think of areas where I still matter. Can YouTube take attendance or count kids during a fire drill? Can it drive a boy to soccer or cub scouts? It can teach you to cook dinner, but will it clean up the mess? And it won’t fold the clothes or give detentions for being chronically late to class. I realize still have a purpose in life. I feel relieved.
Now, I can sit down to my second cup of coffee and learn some more things to make me a better human being–on YouTube.
[photo credit: e-how blogs]