Wednesday, September 30, 2009

A Long, Long Time Ago

September 30, 2009

I caught one of my kids texting during class yesterday. It's a common occurrence on campus--I'm sure it's a problem on most campuses these days. It wasn't during a test or anything, so I wasn't worried about cheating, but it is against the rules, so I gave him his warning and then asked him to put it away. He sheepishly apologized, and then said, "Didn't you ever text during class? Did you ever get caught?"

First of all, I'd like to take it as a compliment that he thinks I'm young enough to have texted during class. Upon reflection though, I realize he has never even known a world where texting wasn't ubiquitous; as far as he knows, it's always been around. I don't mean that literally, of course; the kid knows that cell phones and texting were invented in the modern world, but they just don't stop to think about how modern it all really is.

So I told him no, texting wasn't an option for me when I was in high school. No one had cell phones, let alone unlimited texting plans. "What did you do then?" he asked. "How did you talk to your friends during class? Did you seriously just have to wait til lunch if you were bored?" He looked incredulous.

"We passed notes. All through class. If our friends didn't sit by us, we'd just pass them down the rows until they got where they were supposed to go. And yes, I'm sure I passed as many notes as anyone else." I got a little nostalgic thinking about passed notes to boyfriends about plans for the Friday night football games, and passed notes to best friends about who the new cute boy in class was. And of course, I thought about passed notes about how BORING class was that day. I get it. If I see 'em texting in class, I understand. I still ask them to stop, but I don't get mad at them.

" old school!" my charming student said.

Old school indeed.


  1. Have an "Old School Day".

    Demonstrate how to change a typewriter ribbon.

    Give them a rotary phone and ask them to make a call without pressing any numbers.

    Bring in an old slate and show them what we used to take notes on.

    Then give a lesson in how to use a butter churn.

  2. Remember learning the "special fold" so the notes were all tucked into themselves? Man, that makes me nostalgic!

  3. The big difference is that passed notes had more risk... you get caught texting, and that's that. You get caught passing a note and the teacher reads it to the class... much more danger and risk!!

  4. Hard to believe passing notes is a thing of the past. Although I didn't do it much after getting caught in fifth grade (yes, the teacher read it out loud).
    The other thing we loved passing in class were fresh mimeographs. Everyone would take a whiff!