“Is my way the right way?”

I’ve been having a lot of conversations at school regarding acceptable/responsible use of technology, particularly with respect to gaming and middle school boys. I’m hoping we’re in the process of convening some sort of forum for all stakeholders to come together and review/discuss our RUP and how it pertains to students, parents and teachers alike. (If it all comes together as planned I’m sure I’ll write about it in more detail.)

One of the points I was making to our middle school counselor was the idea that gaming, for a lot of students, is now a social activity. Many parents and teachers – not just at my school – are up in arms that students are playing computer games instead of socializing “like normal kids”. But for these kids, computer games are normal and they are social.

I came across this excerpt from the book Losing Control, Finding Serenity by Daniel A. Miller on BoingBoing:

Genetics aside, our children are not nearly as much like us as we think. Yes, they look and act like us in varying ways, but they are very different from us. This point was powerfully driven home to me when I pressured my daughter Lana (then ten years old) to prepare for an important test. I wanted her to do it the way I had done it in school (making study notes, outlining the material, etc.), not by listening to loud rock music. She promptly responded: “Daddy, I’m different than you. I can’t do it that way. Listening to music helps me study better.”

I was immediately taken aback by the simple truth of what she said. Lana really is different than me, and vastly so. She studies for tests and does her homework differently than I did. She budgets her time differently than I did. She keeps her room and desk much differently than I did. She also has many different interests and talents than I had. After all, who am I to say that my way is the best way — for her? My way is just a way, nothing more. It worked for me, but that doesn’t mean it works for my child.

If we’ve only experienced our own childhood, how we do we make sense of a childhood experience that is set in completely different circumstances? How do we as teachers help parents realize the value in losing some of that control? How can this apply to parent education regarding the use of technology by students in and out of the classroom today?