Headphones and Society
Yet even as I confiscate players from students, and nag at them I remember myself in High School and how the simple act of being able to enjoy some music would often sooth the savage boredom of a class. When we were set exercises to work on, it was a great way to just relax (of course when I was in High School there were no mp3 players, I was using a cassette Walkman, and some friends had Discmans) and I was probably more productive. I used to resent with a firey passion the teachers that believed the use of them was somehow a cardinal sin, that by listening to some music in those excruciating moments of "complete silence" we'd be circumnavigating the natural order of the classroom and introducing anarchy to the universe.
I hate the earphones when I'm trying to teach, but when people are just working on their assignments or something? I'm okay with them. That's how the good teachers (i.e. teachers I liked) used to do it for me and my peers, and that's how I try to do it with my classes. The trouble is with mp3 players that they're easier to disguise, and so I have students trying to be duplicitous when I am already more accommodating than other teachers. It's like the potential to be sneaky is tantamount to the need to be sneaky. Damn kids.
Mp3 players are everywhere these days, and everyone has opinions on them. As a music addict, I love them - I love being able to have a soundtrack to the simple act of walking. I know people who hate that idea though - that by plugging in all the time, we are losing our sense of natural ambience, of the world around us. Should we so blissfully shut out the world with our portable music players?
The answer is difficult to work out. I know one thing though - riding on the train today, listening to some teens swear at one another, then some kid start to sing 'because I got high' with some extra special "I'm a singer, check me out" warbling, and special emphasis on the swearing, then some girl starting swearing over the phone about some guy... and the afternoon went on, weirdos on the bus, offensive people in the street (there must have been a Race Day on or something, there was a lot of classy outfits on decidedly non-classy people) - it was a damn minefield for a guy like me who is discovering his inner-old-man more and more every day. So not having my mp3 player for a great deal of it - well, I missed it a great deal. Sometimes, even as a writer who has ambitions of telling Australian stories in different contexts, all I want to do is retreat into my special little universe. If a set of headphones and tunes bounced dangerously directly upon my eardrums is all it takes for that - well, consider me a misanthrope in the making.
How about all of you? Like the mp3 player invasion? Hate it? Have a position on the place of them in schools? Have a controversial flamebaiting opinion that you want to throw at my blog whilst laughing hysterically? Go to!