He asked a curious question about my work in the latest note: How old are the kids you teach writing? They are so all wired into their phones and texting. Is it hard to get past this?
My response: I tell them that I ask them to put the media away, especially the phones, because my thumbs start to itch when I see them texting and my phone is off. I text a lot. It is convenient and often efficient. Generally the students are quite surprised that I text. Ms. Popoff!!! You really text?!
It’s true. In spite of my age and obvious corniness, I am a relentless texter. Students are extremely dependent on their phones and IPods. Instead of passing notes, they text. They also think we adults don’t see what they are doing or are too old to understand. I like breaking their presumption with my reality. And then, sometimes the best way to engage the students in the poem is to ask them to “translate” it into text language. There is a different code for our kids to use to individualize and keep us out of their business. I guess mine was Pig Latin, though I never knew why it was called that.
Kids have to have their own code, their own connection, in all things, language, art, music, clothing, hair styles. Most outgrow rebellion, although I don’t know that I have done so very well.
I can understand middle and high schoolers being self-focused but I often wonder why my college students are not more involved in politics. I think my peers’ awareness has just a little bit to do with the fact that my generation, including my friend with whom I have been reunited, sat in front of a television to endure the Draft Lottery that would seal the fate of so many. It could literally be the difference between life and death. Sometimes I tell the story of the first Lottery and what it meant to all of my generation, as well as our parents. Perhaps it is that the Civil Rights era now seems like a successful mission to many who want to believe the myth of Post-Racial America. Perhaps I just ran with a unique crowd.
As I stated to my friend, we were unusual young people. The majority of our crew were artists in some medium or another and continued that journey into adulthood. Some of us are also educators in some capacity. We were movie addicts, we made art, we attended a lot of music events, we spent afternoons voluntarily at the Everson Museum of Art in downtown Syracuse. We had long hair then, both genders. Some of us still do.
And we are the first of the electronic age that morphed from television. We have cell phones and computers. We tweet. And we reunite on Facebook to look back at another generation that wants so much to be relevant and connect. A poem is no obstacle to me in that…