One of the absolute default questions whenever you say you home educate is “how do you make sure you know everything they need to know?” My stock answer has always been “We have the internet, what I don’t know I google”. And that is exactly right, that is what we do. Maddy has been observing that ‘google knows everything’ since she was very small and when we need an answer, we turn to the computer to find it out. My children are so used to being able to turn to (and increasingly small) screen for information that it never occurs to them to think it is peculiar to their generation to be able to do so. I know one thing, all the pretended awe of the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy has been wiped out in one small breakthrough. What’s so amazing about a book that knows everything now? And as for it reducing Earth to “mostly harmless” – pah… amateurs.
As my children enthuse about the idea of going on a week of Tudor England living and as we get ready for our annual sojourn to mobile free Dartmoor, I find myself wondering more and more about the Internet and the effect it has had on our lives. Sure, I only have to turn to abroadband speed checkerto see that, 6 miles from an exchange and 3 years off fibre being installed, my internet access is close to medieval anyway, but in all honesty, I think the Internet has sucked nearly as much from life as it has given at times. I spent too much time looking at it, building a business on it, communicating with everyone but my girls when they were younger. Yes, we have a great life now because we work via the Internet and yes, we never have to sit staring at the TV thinking WHO IS HE???? any more because my phone can tell me via IMDB in a heartbeat but sometimes I look at the hoards of books my girls don’t really value and see all the bright flashy things like Club Penguin, Neopets and Pottermore they dabble in and I wonder if actually it has sucked away as much as it has given. I must admit I’m looking forward to holiday, to fewer screens (we won’t get away without DS’s and iPods) and more time making, doing and being.
It struck me even more forcefully when this old post popped into my inbox (via a clever broken link checker that takes even more hassle out of my internet life while also making a job for me) that clearly I have felt like this for a while. I adore the internet, I love my job, my blog, we are better educated because of it and certainly educators because of it – and I could not have lived the last few years without it – but I find myself wondering if we are the generation who had no idea how to manage information overload and social life without socialising. I wonder if there will be a backlash, in the same way I sense a backlash against just giving kids endless ‘stuff’.
The last 6 months I’ve been very sedentary, feeding a baby without stopping. In the past, we read a lot, my girls played at my feet and I dashed about to see people. Since having Ben, I have only read 1 book 😯 I’ve gamed, chatted, tweeted, Facebooked and when I created this screenshot earlier I suddenly had a horrible realisation. The internet has created online virtual housework and crafting via Pinterest – and I’m really not sure if that is a good thing.
I don’t know. What do you think?