I-pods and underachievement
I admit it. There are more and more symptoms that I am becoming a crotchety old man. I try to fight it, but sometimes I just can't help it. One of the things that brings out the crotchety old man in me is seeing kids walking down the halls in our school wearing I-pods.
It seems to me that walking in the hallways is a social situation. People are walking next to you, people are walking toward you, many of whom are friends, and in a small school, nearly all of whom are at least acquaintances. To be walking through all of this with your ears plugged, grooving to your music, trying to be totally in your own world and ignoring everyone seems so unsocial as to be bordering on rudeness.
My own kids bought me an I-pod for Christmas last year, and I do use it once in awhile. But I only use it when I'm by myself. I tried wearing it one day when I walked from my house to school on a Saturday afternoon, and even that felt wrong. Walking to school isn't exactly a social situation, but it's not unusual to come upon someone walking the other way, or to wave at people driving by in their cars, so I just felt like I was missing something. But these kids wear theirs in the middle of a hallway crowded with people they know. It boggles my mind.
This last week, I decided to make a mental note of just who the kids were who actually wore their I-pods while walking through our hallways during school hours. The results of my rather informal survey were incredibly consistent. The first seven kids that I saw with the I-pods were all kids who had failed or were presently failing my American History class. Then I saw some ninth-graders who I didn't know, and I asked teachers standing next to me how they did in class. Everyone of them was an underachiever.
So in our school, at least, there is a very high correlation between wearing I-pods in the hallways and underachievement. The natural assumption to this would be that our underachievers are turned off by school, and the I-pods are simply a symptom of that. But I'm not so sure that that's all it is. The number of underachievers in our school has skyrocketed during the last few years. Is it possible that I-pods and other gadgets like them are not just symptoms? Is it possible that they are contributing to this in some way? I don't know.