". . .the word of God is not bound." II Tim. 2:9b

Saturday, April 9, 2016

That Techy Kid

We haven't quite gotten to the point yet where every teacher in every school uses technology seamlessly. Okay, that's a gross exaggeration. We're all still learning. But it won't be long before teaching means tech and learning uses tech and kids are techy at all times, even those kids who see tech purely as a means to their own ends. While we're caught in the middle, older teachers who remember when there were no computers or when there was no Internet or when cell phones were the size of shoe boxes. . .let's just say we can struggle to connect our students to the tech they need. And they do need it--their world will require it as it requires air.

My own son has helped me push the limits of my tech knowledge. I believe in the Bible verse,
"Train up a child in the way he should go; Even when he is old he will not depart from it."
There are different interpretations of Proverbs 22:6, but I apply it in two of the main ones. First, I try to guide my children on the right path, the way to God, the way of righteousness. Second, I try to notice my children's natural inclinations, such as my middle son's inclination toward engineering and technology. Seeing his gifts, I can steer him toward resources, experiences, and opportunities that will encourage those gifts. The opposite of that would be pushing my child to pursue a career in business or some other field for purely financial reasons when he has no interest or affinity for that field.

My middle child reads well and excels in math, but has trouble seeing the value of those pursuits. Only through art and technology (think STEAM) does he lose himself in the joy of discovery and learning for love.

Without knowing much about animation, I have begun to steer my son toward computer animation in small steps. Recently, I told him about some stop-motion animations that the freshmen at school have created. We watched one called The Orange Mission that depicts Lego guys peeling an orange. I offered to help my son learn to do the same kind of animation; we would just have to learn how to put the photos together into a video. To my surprise, he said his Nintendo 3ds had a stop-motion animation feature, so it wouldn't be an issue. Over spring break, we tried it out at our hotel, animating a Beanie Boo owl turning on the faucet and pondering jumping into the sink. Then, without my help, my son made an animation of the owl diving into a bag of Doritos head first, tail twitching happily as he eats.

Next step? Free computer animation software. Last night we downloaded Pencil 2d after watching some Youtube videos for an overview. We tested the software out, not knowing what we were doing. Mostly it was a fail. I went to bed a little frustrated, but trusted that we'd figure it out soon by watching more tutorials. This morning, my son popped into my room. "Mom, I made an animation and it's really cool." Sure enough, he'd spent the early morning figuring out how Pencil 2d worked (by trial and error, the way we learn tech and many other things best) and animated a guy morphing into a cat. Leave it to the third-grader!

I want my son to know I believe in his need to journey. He will explore his way to a career that is right for him and that allows him to use the gifts God has given him. When he is old, he won't depart from it because he will find fulfillment in it. I can safely resist the urge to tell him he won't get paid to play video games all day because that line of "work" is too competitive. Instead, I can help him find what he is truly made to do. This purpose will be a positive gift from God for all his days.

Teachers can foster the same sense of journey toward fulfilling work in our students if we are in tune to their gifts and inclinations. It's one way we can live out a Christian world-view in our secular field.


  1. Thank you for this wonderful reminder to offer our children and students opportunities to explore and figure out how things work. I want to tune in more to their God-given gifts and inclinations.

  2. There's a great poem by C.P. Cavafy called "Ithaca" that mirrors the Odyssey by Homer. It was originally written in Greek, so there are a few different translations out there. You can find a YouTube version with Sean Connery reading it, masterfully, of course. The poem describes the journey out from Ithaca, a metaphor for home, and eventually the journey back to an Ithaca that seems to have changed. Our life experiences grow us as we gather precious perfumes and mother-of-pearl, and as we "learn and learn from those who have knowledge." The grown version of ourselves may look back at home as if it somehow had "defrauded" us, but as the poem says, Ithaca gave us the wonderful journey. Without her, we would never have set out. This is what I want for my children, for my students. The courage to set out and the wisdom to endure the journey and come back the richer for it.