Friday, December 2, 2011

What purpose did all the failing serve

During my first year of teaching physical education, I had a kindergartner three times a week without fail always ask me "why are we doing this?" His question was rooted in genuine curiosity, not to necessarily bring attention to himself. When I think about this student, I smile at that memory because it made me a better teacher. I learned from him that whatever I teach, to whomever I teach it to, there needs to be a practical reason for it. If I have to stretch for an answer or cannot give an immediate real world application to them, then I need to improve my lesson.

As a student I hated hearing my elementary school teachers telling me that we need to know something  because "we might need to use it someday." Is telling a fourth grader that they need to know fractions because they "might need to use it someday" a great motivating tactic? How is it relevant to them today (other than for the standardized test)? Why would they want to try to learn about fractions?

Too many classes in my time at school were  required. A required course in my experience seemed to be set in isolation. You learn about grammar in English, how to spell, punctuation, etc but what is the immediate application? When I was in school it was implied that learning proper English was necessary so that people wouldn't judge you as poor. As an adult who has held a job of some sort since in I was sixteen, I can tell you that I have heard some of the most eloquent bullshit come out of people's mouth. What does that mean? Which is better for society, a well spoken liar or an honest person who makes the mistake of using "who" when it should be "whom?"

While in college  I noticed that each major had its own set of  required courses. This makes sense when one is eighteen, nineteen or twenty for a parent, professor, or advisor to inform the student that if you want to follow a certain major  you will need to achieve a designated level of math or science or whatever else to attain such a degree. There is a seemingly tangible reason as to why the student would want to learn the material. 

I am very aware of the mantra from high school students today to take certain classes to get into a good college. To take a class to get into college is not really a real world application other than the application of being obedient.  According to the students chronicaled in the book "The Overachievers" by Alexandra Robbins, some of these high achieving kids are more interested doing whatever it takes (including cheating on assignments they view as a waste of time) to receive an "A"   than gaining actual knowledge. 


I had a dream recently that I was back in my high school Trigonometry class, but instead of being sixteen again, I was my current age of thirty-one. In this dream I was sitting at my desk listening to the teacher talk over my head about sine, cosine, and tangent. As I was sitting there I was very much trying to follow the teacher, like I did when I was sixteen. However this was not the nightmare I was used to having as a struggling student. I was aware of one very important thing: I already have a job and I do not need to be an expert at trig to do my job. That defies the "one day you are going to need to know this" argument. Not only that, I use very little if any Spanish in my daily activities. That was another "one day you are going to need to know this" class. In reality, I use Latin in my life more than Spanish and ITS A FREAKIN DEAD LANGUAGE!
Just about every word we use is a derivative of Latin. Because of my knowledge of Latin, I am able to use context clues better when I come to a word I am not sure of while reading; something I do everyday.

When I woke up from this dream it dawned on me, as poor of a student that I turned out to be, was all this failing necessary? What was the point of taking and subsequently failing classes that I didn't even need in the first place? Why was I (and others) required to take so many classes that translated very little into adult life? Of all the education I have received, my elementary education has served me the most as an adult. There were some higher level classes along the way that were beneficial however. I have found relevance from my history and geography classes. Taking economics and personal finance classes have served me very well too, for obvious reasons.

I reflect about my educational experiences often because I have two girls who one day will go to school. I have fears that they will be like me in the fact that they will have to struggle needlessly throughout their entire educational career in courses not necessarily germane to real world experiences and then made  to feel inferior only to realize how smart they are once they step out of the school doors.

My other fear is that they will do SO well that their identity will be solely linked to academics and feel like the only place they fit in is school. If humans are  living to be about seventy-six years old,  two thirds of their lives will not be spent in school, the only place they identify with. What will they do then when their GPA's mean nothing?

Sunday, October 16, 2011

My take on the Occupy Wall Street movement

I would like to express that I am very proud of those who are occupying Wall St. and other streets across the country. Those who are occupying Wall St. are people who are tired of being sold out by the banks and government, tired of being unemployed and unemployable because they are "overqualified." They are tired of being called lazy and free loaders and accused of sitting on unemployment, collecting a government check. What makes this movement give me hope is that it is not one group rallying for their own personal gain and all others be damned. This is a movement of people from all walks, industries, and cultures of life rallying under one common theme: equality. As Americans we are being told metaphorically to "go to the back of the bus" by our politicians and upper one percent. Equality is a fundamental right that people will let bend, but maybe we are seeing that we won't let that right break.

Aside from the idealistic nature of the rally, another key ingredient of why I believe this movement will be successful is that it is a movement started and maintained by employed or formerly employed adults. This is not a handcuff yourself to a tree, or spray red paint on everyone who passes you who is wearing an animal product protest. This is not a college cause of the week, stage a protest and then go back to class. This is a protest that is born out of survival. When most people lose their jobs, survival skill number one is to find another job. These unemployed adults are up against something in finding a job  that I might guess many have never experienced before in their life: discrimination. They can't be hired because they are too old, been unemployed for too long, or require too high of a salary based on their industry skills. For those that do have jobs, we are witnessing corporations and governments fighting to reduce pay and take away workers rights.

From my young perspective, he is how I see this as different from the times of the sixties. These working adults are fighting for their and their families economic survival. The silent majority of those times were the working Americans who were annoyed with the antics and displays of young people who had no life experiences who supposedly felt they reflected their communities of which the majority if its citizens disagreed with. Today's silent majority is comprised of working adults who can see the corruption, disillusionment, and flat out lies in government to the point where they feel they have to do something about it.

The overarching theme that ties this movement to the times of the sixties is money. While college kids of the sixties might not have had the financial aide that is given now, they also didn't have all the college debt. As a young employee with no debt, perhaps it might have been easier to disagree with the boss without fearing the loss of your job? Could that have possibly been an unofficial "checks and balance" in the workplace? Fast forward to today, where students are averaging 20-25k or more in college debt before even finding their first job, how much leverage is now controlled by the employer? Young workers are expected to put in 60-70 hours on low salaries and have very little voice. Because of student loan debt (which cannot be defaulted on in bankruptcy) a college grad must take any job they can. In the process, they lose their voice. They must make their payments on debts and speaking out at work could affect that. Thus corruption, worker's rights violations, or harassment, can run rampant (which we know is true with the implementation of the "whistleblower" law).

The protesters of today still have loads of debt, unlike their young counterparts of the sixties. However the one common thread they share is the idea of equality. No amount of money in the world can adequately substitute for the lack of transparency, justice, or fair treatment of individuals.

I hope this movement will allow us to come to certain conclusions:
1. Consumerism didn't work. It dumbed us all down with thinking that products will make us smarter rather than depending on critical thinking.
2. Our economy cannot stand on a service industry. The service industry requires few people selling to many. Many cannot buy when only a few have jobs. Production/manufacturing industry serves the needs of our citizens best.
3. Education cannot be taken lightly, nor does paying tens of thousands of dollars to a college or university secure you enlightenment.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Experience is a must

*Bloggers note*
this is a long post but please stay with me. I hope the point will become clear at the end. Enjoy!

An excerpt from "John Wooden: A Lifetime of Observations and Reflections, On and Off the Court."

The gym is a classroom.

I felt that running a practice session was almost like teaching an English class in that I wanted to have a lesson plan. I knew the detailed plan was necessary in teaching English, but it took a while before I understood the same thing was necessary in sports. Otherwise you waste an enormous amount of time, effort and talent.

I would spend almost as much time planning a practice as conducting it. Everything was listed on three- by-five cards down to the very last detail.

Everything was planed out each day. In fact, in my later years at UCLA I would spend two hours every morning with my assistants organizing that day's practice session (even though the practice itself might be less than two hours long). I kept a record of every practice session in a looseleaf notebook for future reference.

My coaches and managers also had three-by-five each day so they knew-to the exact minute- when we would need two basketballs at one end of the court for a drill, or five basketballs at mid court for a different drill, or three players against two players at a certain place and time, or the dozens and dozens of variations I devised.

I kept notes with the specifics of every minute of every hour of every practice we ever had at UCLA. When I planned a day's practice, I looked back to see what we'd done on the corresponding day the previous year and the year before that.

By doing that I could track the practice routines of every single player for every single practice session he participated in while I was coaching him. In those days freshmen were ineligible. Otherwise I would have gone back three years in reviewing the drills.

It was very important that I learn about each player and then study that player so I would know if he needed a little more time on this or that particular drill. I needed to know which drill had greater application to this player or that player because individuals vary.

So I devised drills for both individuals and the group and studied and analyzed them. Some drills would be good for all and some drills would be good for just certain players.

I needed to understand how to apply these drills in practice. I learned I must not continue them too long. I must know as the season progressed how they were going to change and then devise new ones to prevent monotony, although there would be some drills we must do every single day of the year.

All those things I had a responsibility to do to the utmost of my ability because they were things over which i had control.

The pressure I created during practices may have exceeded that which opponents produced. I believe when an individual constantly works under pressure, he or she will respond automatically when faced with it during competition.

I engaged in very little discussion. I'd talk while drills were going on, mostly to individuals rather than to the group. I did more individual coaching in that sense.

Following the drills, I would make notes. Perhaps we needed two more minutes on this drill or less time to complete that drill.

By reviewing and analyzing everything, we were able to get the very most out of our practice time. That was necessary to reach our goal: getting the very most our of our abilities.

Then I would say, "Young men, you have a responsibility for the attainment and 'maintainment' of all the little details that we do in practice. Your responsibility begins each afternoon when practice ends, because you can tear down more between practices than we can possibly build up during practices. So please practice moderation in what you do"

But it all began with attention to, and perfection of, details. Details. Details.

Develop a love for details. They usually accompany success.


I am moved by this because of a recent statement by Education Secretary Arne Duncan that he is worried about losing "great young talent" and view this passage as a great opportunity to voice why I think he is wrong.

 While, I am only entering my seventh year of teaching, each year that passes I get further away from my first days, with it I bring in more experiences, more management techniques, more teaching techniques and more confidence.

I know it is popular to blame older teachers right now. They are at the higher end of the pay scales and young teachers are cheaper. No politician has proven yet that an older teacher is a hinderance to learning and that younger teachers are the answer.

In Malcolm Gladwell's book "Outliers" he talks in great length about the "10,000 hour rule".  It states that in the pursuit of acquiring a specific skill set, it takes in the ballpark of 10,000 hours of practice to master such skills. He goes on to demonstrate this with the efforts of the Beatles before they broke onto to scene. He chronicled Bill Gates' routine as a teenager of spending hours and hours of writing computer code also.

10,000 hours generally falls into the ball park of 9-11 years of working at that skill. Compare the 15-20 year employee to the 5th year and it might be no contest who has the most expertise.

To dump a teacher who has over 10,000 hours of experience and expertise in favor of a teacher with little or no hours of professional experience clearly shows the disconnect and hypocrisy of politicians who want "highly qualified teachers." Non of these pols would hire a person without any experience for their private company, but think that non experienced teachers will move education forward? This flip flop thinking is much like how an elected official will tout his/her level of public service experience when running a campaign against a younger opponent.

I am not saying people don't deserve a shot to get that first job. We all have to get our start somewhere. But to claim the young and inexperienced are better teachers is not always true and officials must know that.

To tie John Wooden into this whole mix, he was the greatest college basketball coach ever. This passage is proof of his level of competency and skill as a coach and teacher. However, John Wooden was hired in 1949, but didn't win his first national championship until 1964.  For the math majors, that is a time span of fifteen years. His opportunity to gain expertise, and log in a multitude of hours over this time set him on the path for success for the rest of his career. In today's world he might have never made it that far in his contract, as he had a few seasons that were less than stellar. In continuing to pursue his craft, he turned his work ethic into something that will never be surpassed by any other college coach in my lifetime. (Im 31!)

What if he was released after year ten for a younger coach who was cheaper? The greatest run by a college basketball program might never have happened. His team's run of ten national championships in twelve years happened after his 15th year at UCLA.

This understanding of knowing the value of experience can be seen by looking at who UCLA hired in 1975 when Wooden retired: Gene Bartow. Years of head coaching experience prior to following Wooden: fifteen!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

At your service

Today's economy is, by no hidden secret, driven by the service industry. It started gaining traction in the 1970's and made significant strides in the 1990's once the manufacturing industry successfully packed up and left the country.

As a society we depend on services more and more in our daily lives. We pay for cable and internet service. Cell phone plans, bank "products" (i still don't know what those are), insurance, etc. We pay someone else to do something for us. We used to buy a lawnmower and cut grass every Saturday morning. Now you pay a HOA fee for someone to do it. Child care was a bartering system where parents took turns watching each others kids. Now, few let their kids get more than twenty feet away from them and pay a premium to a day care center to teach their one year old quadratic equations so they can "get ahead".

The idea behind service is "don't do it yourself, pay me to do it".  From there competing services blossomed and you get where we are today. One drawback as a society from this is a service industry allows us to shift the blame. If our grass isn't cut, rather than do it ourselves, we call and complain that someone else didn't cut it. Instead of going for that evening walk after dinner, we pay for expensive gym memberships. When our waistlines bulge we still find a way to excuse ourselves from responsibility by either complaining that the machines are always taken or that I have no time to exercise, or the fitness classes are not offered when it fits my schedule.

Youth sports have taken to this as well. I have talked to parents who pay $150 for their three year old to play on a soccer team.  My first question is "what can they teach your three year old about soccer that you can't teach them?" An afternoon with the child's friends in a backyard or park accomplishes the same thing. However, by paying, the parent is no longer liable for their child's perceived failure as a soccer player (lest we forget they're three year olds).

With our daily lives surrounded by paying for someone else to take care of it, it shines a perspective on the education field that is misguided and dangerous for kids and the future of the country.

When we count on someone else to do the work we get lazy as people and as parents. Too many times in the past two years education has been attacked by this attitude. When parents remind teachers that "we pay your salary" and "you work for me" it releases the parent from making sure their kid is educated. If a child comes out of school or even college with limited academic skills, from a non impoverished environment, my question is, how did the parent let that happen? By paying taxes and college tuition, that doesn't mean your job is done. Quite the contrary, if a parent does the work necessary to see that their child is properly educated, it might lessen that bill (no tutor fees, SAT Prep classes, possibly receive scholarship money,etc).

I have a twenty month old little girl and my wife and I know that her learning her ABC's and how to read and write are not the sole responsibility of her teachers just because we pay taxes. If my child is not ready for the world when she is done with her education, that is a failure on my part, not the education system. The education system is responsible for facilitating learning for each child. The great teacher can motivate and inspire but that is above and beyond what they are called to do. It is my job as a parent to motivate my child to learn and behave correctly. It is my job as a parent to know the curriculum . If I only know how my child is doing by looking at her report card every quarter, then I have failed as a parent to educate my child. Her teacher will teach skills, units, or subjects and then report on progress. The teacher wants the children to learn and will do a tireless job until that happens. However, if my child fails at learning the material, that is on me. A child cannot fail if the parent is devout in making sure their child knows the material. If a child goes out into the world not knowing their multiplication facts, that is the parent's fault. If a child cannot write a coherent sentence, the parent has failed the child.

Granted I will not expect my child to have to write like Hemmingway or be a math whiz, but if they cannot write an essay for their college admissions, or cannot do basic consumer math, I have set them up for failure as an adult.

Many reformers want to make education a private service based industry. Parents need to know that by paying for an education doesn't mean its someone else's job.  It is a field that takes a collaboration of at least three people to achieve success (parent, teacher, child). In the service field, if something breaks or doesn't work, you call and someone fixes the broken product. Children are not broken products that you can reboot or recall. We cannot allow education to join the ranks of the service industry. If it does, we will just see kids as a commodity and mine their brains for that commodity and throw the rest away. I say as a parent, this is one job that is a do-it-yourself project!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Imagine That!

Human brains are different from most other animals. Are you are now smarter for reading that last sentence? When comparing other animals, reptiles or amphibians brain structure, the differences are staggering. Not necessarily because of what exists but rather, what does not exist. Frogs have mainly just a brain stem. Their brains function on a survival only basis. A dog or cat brain is slightly larger allowing for functions of emotion.

It is no secret that a human brain and monkey brain are similar. When viewed from the hindbrain, both have almost identical form. Functions of survival, emotion and social interactions are characteristics of both species.

Human brains however, through evolution, became even more sophisticated.

One of the coolest and underrated ways our brains are more evolved deals with our imagination. As humans we can see things that are not there (picture a glass of water on a table in your house.... while you are reading this! I bet you can do it). If you are older and have lived in the same place for a while, I bet you can still see landscapes that have since disappeared to development.

What does this have anything to do with an educational blog? Plenty. First, in my experiences, I have found that all learning is sensory based. (I am disappointed that it has taken me thirty-one years before I learned this, but I was never mentally the first one to the party either!) However, in my pursuit to understand how students learn and how athletes think, I have found that when learning occurs through one of the senses, its sticks and develops meaning.

In the summer of 2005, I worked as an intern at IMG academies in Florida. The IMG academies house some of the best young athletes in their sport. The Nick Bolliteri tennis school is there along with the David Leadbetter Jr. Golf academy. The U.S. U-20 soccer team trains there as well.
While there I was exposed to seeing how the best athletes not only train physically, but also cognitively. Part of the players day always consisted of mental conditioning. This might consist of how to think positively, staying in the moment, and developing mental stamina.

One aspect that was hammered home hard with these players was imagery -especially with the golfers. When I got to sit down with one of the sport psychologists to discuss competitive psychology, I was blown away with his findings on imagery. He was telling me of a study he was conducting in conjunction with USC on imagery. He showed me print outs of experiments of when he would hook electrodes up to people to measure brain and muscle function. The people who were hooked up, were asked to imagine themselves running while they were in a sitting position. What the print outs showed was that many of his athletes leg muscles showed small amounts of twitching. The brain was firing the necessary muscles to do what it imagined!

As I continued my summer of work, I noticed how many teachers were instructing their students to see their shots (tennis, golf, basketball) until the ball stopped rolling, went in the hoop, or bounced on the other side of the net. They were teaching their students to "see". Their feedback was determined by what they saw and not what the coach said. These coaches were teaching them not only techniques on how to picture themselves succeeding, but also allowing the players to gain feedback from their senses. By teaching one how to use their senses, they were able to improve the training of a highly skilled athlete.

Lots of kinesthetic methods are used, but is there is more than just touch? Is there a way we can teach kids how to use all of their senses to learn?

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Can you lead the way to achievement?

Here is an article from a blog by Seth Godin. In it he refers to three different management styles that are commonly used to get people to achieve. You can read the article in its entirety but I also would like to interject some personal experience as well.

In Method 1 he refers to the old school sports coaching model. The days when yelling and screaming were seen as the effective ways to motive a person to succeed. A great point that Godin brings up with this model is, that perhaps while a player is on a team with a coach who applies a Bob Knight or Vince Lombardi-like model, he might achieve but only in the short term. When a player no longer is playing, there has been no foundation set for that player to achieve after the season is over. Players are more likely to be motivated by fear which allows them do learn "just enough" not to get yelled at. So much more learning and understanding is left on the table.

In Method 2, the idea is to create competition amongst the group. I don't have a huge problem with this but I can see where this is not always the best way. Where I have a problem with this model is when it becomes result based only. Learning is a process and sometimes competition incidentally rewards shortcuts, i.e. cheating.
 Like the article also says, if a manager has one promotion to give between six people, five people will lose. One might say this is survival of the fittest. But what if there is not much difference that separates the first place winner and the second place winner? Do we really need to label one as a winner and one as a loser. Don't get me wrong, I am not an "everybody gets a trophy" person. If competition is done correctly it will have short term and long term incentives. This not only allows a person to improve and move up, but it also establishes personal measuring sticks for each one to be evaluated over the course of time.

Method 3 would seem like the model we all would want to strive for as a leader. To facilitate achievement and then let each one work it out for themselves at their own pace. The teacher sets the expectation but then steps back while the student works towards achieving.

From my experiences with participating in sports and coaching, I have seen all three models. Sports in many ways mirrors life. The competition can be fierce and many times yesterdays success is forgotten today. Coaches sometimes see players as pieces to be used to inflate their hopeful "hall of fame" careers.

The best leaders (coaches, teachers, supervisors) I have had in my life found a balance between methods two and three. My best teachers followed method three perfectly. Guidelines were set as to when comprehension needed to be achieved. How you solved that problem was up to you. There was no absolute wrong answer as long as you could give an adequate response to how you came to your conclusions. During this process the teacher was readily available to provide any support and guidance.

The best coaches I ever had were few and far between. The good ones, my 7th grade basketball coach, and my high school varsity basketball coach, each got involved in the process of achieving. I remember one coach saying to us all the time "If you get involved with the process of winning, the results will take care of themselves".
 When competition was applied to any situation, it was designed in a way to see how well each one has grasped concepts.

The worst coaches I had, 9th grade JV basketball, 11th grade varsity basketball, college golf, applied methods one and two religiously and probably to this day have never heard of method three. Here are some sayings from these bad coaches
- "some of you won't get to play much this year because you have to pay your dues"
- "I'm not going to be positive with you guys until you give me something to be positive about"
- " You guys are awful. This is one of the worst teams I have ever coached" (his face was beet red and screaming)
While I was on those teams with those coaches, we never had winning record coincidentally. That made me a firm believer in method three. If we were going to lose each game, at least teach how to play. We might win a game or two more if we know why we suck, rather than just telling us we suck! One common trait of these teams: every player was utterly confused for the entire season as to what to do next. We were all on edge of hoping not to be the next one to make a mistake and get chewed out. Try learning when you are scared. Its hard to do.

Sports are sometimes a different animal than the classroom or office simply because the timeline for achievement is much shorter. But I think regardless, method one and method two teachers, coaches or employers need to look at a bigger picture. The teacher who berates the kid will grow up and possibly have kids who hate school because the parent shares their negative experience. The athlete who played sports no longer plays and loses an outlet for enjoyment as an adult. The employer who yells and pits employees against each other could lose his/her best employees out to a competitor.

Leading is not easy. Trying to get everyone to achieve is difficult. But if you can create an environment where people believe they are going to achieve, they will push themselves as far as they can go. This is what I want for myself as a teacher and a high school coach.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

A man before his time

Click on the link to visit an interview with Issac Asimov. He was a writer and publisher of science fiction and history, among other genres. As well as being an author, he was a professor and an academic. In this interview from 1988 he shares what his vision of education for the future could be. What is truly amazing is that his vision for the future twenty three years ago is becoming a reality. His perspective on life after one's school career is complete is spot on. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Are we as bad as we are told?

Check out this link to an article that explains why American schools, no matter how much a politician will try to convince you otherwise, are still pretty good.

We seem to have this need to want to be like China, Japan, Thailand when it comes to math scores and academic "progress." What is always left out of the discussion is the difference of culture. Asian countries are mostly hierarchical  societies where moving up the social ladder is mostly unheard of. A poor family will stay poor and a wealthy family will remain wealthy. A lower or middle class student who performs well in school will most likely continue their station in that society. A "B" student in America will have more opportunities available simply because of the social structure here.
As pointed out in the article, the countries we compete against only report test results of a small population within their country and do not take into consideration all scores from across all socioeconomic backgrounds. We count the lowest of the low and highest of the high.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Are you plugged in or logged off?

Technology is something for the  younger generation, right? With Xbox, Wii, iphones, social networking, smart cars, and the millions of other gadgets have some crowds feeling disconnected, out of touch and at times frustrated by the sense that life has changed faster than they can keep up. Frustration leads to cop outs such as "all this technology has ruined our society. Kids are lazy and they don't know how to interact with others because everything is digital and done for them."

Technology was destined to make all of us "lazy" in a way. That's why we invented it, to ease the stress and burden of everyday life and to enhance our living experiences.  But before we scold people for being interested in gadgets and gizmo's, make sure everyone looks at technology in their daily lives. You might find so much technology you never considered because of the routine and ubiquitous nature of it.

For as long as there have been people, there has been technology. It is not a new concept. So when I read about a  teacher posing a challenge to their students to go one week without technology, I was excited to hear about their experiences! Many of them equated it as to living an alien existence. A few quit before the week was up. Not having access to their iphone was just too much to bear!

My thought is, can you blame them? Has technology made us lazy? Perhaps -i no longer need to know how to spell anything anymore, thanks spell checker. Has technology increased our sedentary lifestyle which increases our overall health risks. Sure -but don't tell me that the mills, factories and coal mines of  early 20th century industrialism provided a healthier work environment than sitting in a cubical staring at a screen.

I won't defend being lazy and unhealthy. I will however say there is hardly anything in our daily lives that isn't touched by technology. For the critics of technology, see if you can eliminate these three staples from your day.

1. Eliminate electricity. By doing so you now no longer can use:
TV, radio, dvd,blueray, stove, dishwasher, washer and dryer, hair dryer, curling iron, blender, mixer, ipod, camera, video camera, refrigerator, freezer, thermostat, hot water, lamps, lights, ceiling fans, toaster, waffle iron, panini press, vacuum, computer, alarm clock, microwave or anything else that runs on an alternating current. In your new world of no electricity, the term "plugged in" does not exist.

2. Eliminate the automobile. Hey at least this will save you gas and you will be doing your part to cut down on sprawl -if you live walking distance to work! If not, you might want to invest in a horse.

3. Eliminate the telephone. The original social networking device.

You might be able to do it for a day and might even find it to be a peaceful, but I would guess a day or two would be all you can do. There is no need to go backwards. There is technology for everyone. We don't have to embrace all of it. But to categorize it as wasted money, for kids, or detrimental to our health, is seeing the glass as half empty. Technology has also saved us money, provided adults to reconnect with childhood friends, and has saved lives.

Technology has been around forever, it will be around as long as there are people. As long as we continue to have imaginations we will have new creations. The cool thing is, if you have an idea for something - a project for work, a way to watch TV more clearly, finding a way to deliver a presentation- thanks to technology, there's an app for that!