When J.K. Rowling sought to describe the sights of Hogwarts in the summer months, she wrote how ‘the castle grounds were gleaming in the sunlight as though freshly painted; the cloudless sky smiled at itself in the smoothly sparkling lake, [and] the satin-green lawns rippled occasionally in a gentle breeze.’
However, to notice the castle grounds, sky and lawns, students at Hogwarts would have needed to look up from their screens, and in order for her imagination to construct the wonderful world of Harry Potter, J.K. Rowling would have needed to take a break from her Tablet or PC.
But if your child was at Hogwarts, do you think they’d look up to notice its beauty, or do you think that their head would be fixed to the screen in front of them as they chat with a friend or play an online game?
We all know that technology is a wonderful thing, especially for education and Jewish Studies. It is the portal to a limitless amount of information and the source for so much of our intellectual and social stimulation. Each of us learn from technology, rely on technology, and live with technology.
At the same time, true creativity emerges when we look at the world beyond our screens, and not only at the world that appears on our screens, and though there are many apps available to nurture creativity, Howard Gardner & Katie Davis write in ‘The App Generation’ that ‘what seems creative on the surface may actually be re-creative’.
Like all things, screen time is a matter of balance. Too little, and children can feel under stimulated and disconnected; too much, and children can lose sight of the beauty and wonder of the universe.
As our children get ready for their summer vacation it is up to us to provide them tasks & challenges beyond the screen that stimulate their imagination, while also encouraging them to harness the information and tools that can be found on their screens.
True, this balance is hard to find. But when we do, it is magic!
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