Don’t Be Afraid of Progress

Tourists photograph a church with their phone

Who would have thought that the homeschool dad was the “progressive”?

Last week Teresa and I received a letter from the junior high school that our daughter is about to enter.  After years of homeschooling, our oldest will be the first in our family to go off to school. She’s rather excited, and so are we, but being that we’re the newbies, we find ourselves reading everything in great detail to make sure that we’re up to speed.

I was shocked and wish I hadn’t read the package that was sent with the new “Cell Phone Policy.”

Not surprisingly, the policy requires that all cell phones are put away during the school day and that permission is requested if it needs to be used during school hours. I get that. You want kids learning at school, not texting and surfing.

What shocked me was the letter that accompanied the policy. Remember, this is a junior high school that is attached to a high school and the policy (and presumably the letter) applies to both.

The policy urged parents to refrain from getting the latest technology for their children. If you are to get a phone for your child, apparently the school believes that it should have a dial and cord (ok, exaggeration, they actually recommended a feature phone). Their reasoning: it’s harder to cheat or get yourself in trouble with a phone that only texts and calls home.

In a society where more people have cell phones than toilets and over half of the cell phones in the U.S. are smartphones, does this seem a little backwards to anyone else?  Isn’t the purpose of school (and parenting no less) to prepare our children for what comes next; to get them ready for the real world?

Catholic schools have long advocated for more than a purely academic experience, one where we prepare kids for life. As parents, we should be thinking about the formation of the child. How are we preparing them for life if by the time they turn 18 and head off for college they have never had to responsibly use what most of America considers to be a staple of their life?

Listen, I’m the last one to run out and get my daughter a smartphone just because she’s now 12, but you better believe that she will have one (or whatever the latest innovation is at that time) well before she graduates from high school.

Technology is amoral (neither good, nor bad).  It is a fundamental component of society and it can be used for great good, as well as great evil.

We MUST stop running away from progress, especially technological progress, or as a society we will continue to raise children in the extremes: those who are out of touch with realities and those who reject faith for progress.  Isn’t it better to teach them to embrace the reality of progress within the context of their faith?

As a parent, it is my responsibility to prepare my children to use technology in a responsible way.  How can I do that if they never have the opportunity to use it?  I’d rather they discipline themselves in that regards under my tutelage than long after they are out from under my roof.


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