Sunday, February 21, 2016

Words, Words, and More Words: Our Kids Need Them

Tellin' It
What a week!

Lots of storytelling. Worked in schools that educate the very privileged, all the way over to the children whose parents have little to nothing. The difference in these two groups is always stark. The similarities between these two groups is always interesting.

I've been trying to figure out what to write about this week. When the work is rich, the audiences teach you many things, the world reconfirms what you have noticed over many years, and you discover that this job has new curves and surprises you never suspected could exist, there is much material that can be discussed.
Told Rumplestilskin, got cool reactions.

Oh, then, my drive from Florida home to North Carolina. Wow, it was very Zen. I was in a great zone, chewing over all of the performances, tweaking stories, thinking about new material. The weather was perfect, and the drive was both cleansing, and lovely. Perhaps this week's blog should be about using drive time to refresh and renew?

Zen Driving

I had great interactions with teachers, administrators, and even the hotel attendants, and I got to see Carrie Sue Ayvar, one of my favorite people and acquired family. Perhaps this should be a blog about advocacy, downloading with another storyteller, sharing news and suggestions? Downloading with other tellers?

I got invited to a festival I'd never heard of, and know nothing about at all. Perhaps this could be a blog piece on how to approach this sort of situation?

Lots of things happened this week that I thought might make a decent piece, and then, when I was about five miles from home after driving for eight hundred miles, something happened that upended my entire trip, and wrecked my Zen.

I was listening to my XM radio, as I often do, and a song I'd never heard came on called On The Phone, On the Toilet sung by a man named Randy Kaplan.
Randy Kaplan

He's done some fun songs, and I do like his music. I particularly like the song, Don't Fill Up On Chips.

This one, however, floored me. Basically, it is this song about a kid whose mother is always on the phone. He thinks she is missing his whole childhood. He sings about the fact that she never talks to him. She never has conversations with him. She doesn't interact with him at all. He always feels lonely. Then, one day he looks at her phone and discovers that she is actually tweeting, blogging and face booking? about him. He feels better, and less alone.

Me? Horrified. His mother isn't interacting with him, she's interfacing with her phone. it doesn't matter if she's tweeting, blogging and whatever else with the world about him if she doesn't interact with him. Kids need our attention, our eyes, our words, our presence. It isn't enough for you to be bodily there if every other part of your world is focused on the tiny square in your hands. Study from a couple of years ago that finds that parents with smart phones tend to ignore their children. It isn't just kids in America, other countries are noticing this problem as well. Here is a piece about kids discussing how kids feel about their parent's phone obsessions.

I turned off the radio and considered all of the kids I'd seen over the last week. I considered how many teachers were on their phones right when the storytelling began. I started looking around at the other drivers and passed no fewer than eight in the last five miles who were texting and driving.

It made me consider how lucky my kids were that we didn't have a television in our kitchen. We sat at the table, had meals together, and talked. It made me consider how many hours we played language games as a family like Scattagories, Apples to Apples, and Balderdash.

It made me think of all of the research that tells us how important it is to speak to children. They can't learn language if they don't hear us speaking. They can't develop deep vocabularies if they don't hear us speaking. They won't develop conversation skills if they don't hear them modeled. They won't develop visualization skills if they only interface with screens that give them all of the images. The basis of all things literate start with speaking.

I pondered the song the rest of the way home. I pondered what kind of language the next generation of kids is going to get from their parents. I pondered, and I thought about storytelling. By the time I got home, I didn't want to write about anything else.

Happy Talking

1 comment:

  1. Dear Donna, I am a storyteller from Greece. I am doing this job for 5 years now, but I am telling stories since 2003. What you are describing might as well be one of my day...I so so much feel what you are saying...same here in everything...globalization I think...but in the right way??? Take care