Monday, 20 July 2015

The world changes quickly

Sunday June 14th #14

When I first showed your mum this, she thought it was about caterpillars. And maybe by the time you read this you'll have grown some butterflies of your own and you'll understand the connection. At first I didn't think it had anything to do with caterpillars but the more I think about it, the more it does.

Change happens quickly my little one. And I suppose we shouldn't be surprised. 15 weeks ago you didn't exist. And now you do. And more changes have taken place within you, from nothing to something, than the changes I want to talk to you about. I suppose, as adults, we don't really look at things that way. Maybe we're not quite ready.

When my grandparents were little the aeroplane was only just being invented. If you bought a new car they brought it round to your house. There were still toilet blocks at the end of the street. Television was in black and white and there were only a couple of channels. Not everyone had telephones, mobile phones were a thing of science fiction, If they'd even been thought up yet.

In my life I have seen technology set the world alight. There were no videos when I was young. Then there was Beetamax, a video with a plug in remote control. Now videos don't even exist anymore.

I can remember our first computer. It was a ZX81 and it had a 1k memory and a 16k plug in pack. The keyboard didn't even have buttons and the display wasn’t in colour but was black and white. We went round to someone who your granddad knew to have a look at theirs before we bought it. I can remember how seeing it felt. It was like looking at the future.

In fact, I can still remember before computer games and even before Atari, when you had a box you plugged into your telly and there were maybe three games built in. In one of them, probably the most famous, you had two lines (bats) and a square dot (the ball) and they called it 'tennis'. Google it. I can remember a life before Google. I wonder if Google will even exist by the time you are old enough to understand.

I can remember the first play station and how seeing it was like seeing the impossible. Before even that I can remember my first computer lesson at school. There was a room full of BBC computers. They don't exist anymore. You could send your friend a message and were amazed when they received it pretty much straight away and they were sitting opposite you.

When I started teaching there was no internet or email. I hand-wrote work sheets. And it all changed within about five years and we all changed with it.

When I was little, I used to like taking things to pieces. Once my granddad asked me if I wanted to learn how to make a telephone. We took a radio to pieces and unravelled the copper wire. He said, "Put one piece to your ear, I'll unravel it and walk round the other side of the house, put the other end to my mouth and then you'll be able to hear me."

I did as I was told. Waiting to see how telephones worked. He walked around the other side of the house and after I'd waited and put the copper to my ear, he shouted, "Hello."

I thought it was the funniest thing in the world. I'm not sure he really knew how much he was teaching me. The world changes fast. I can't imagine the technology, the things that will happen in your life, which you will take for granted whilst never wondering what the world was like before. These things happen. Life changes quickly. Don't ever be scared my little one. And don't ever get too carried away to stop once in a while and look over your shoulder in amazement at the things people have managed to do with what's around them.

But also remember that this world is precious and all the things in it are precious. Don't ever sacrifice a quick fix for the things that might be lost, the animals that might suffer and the people who might suffer in the long run. Technology is a wonderful thing. So are history and people and thought. Don't be in too much of a rush to get somewhere without remembering how you got there and where you and all of us came from in the first place.