Friday, October 12, 2012

Kids these days

Last week I went on a two-day school trip to London.  We went on a sightseeing tour, saw Wicked, and went to the Warner Bros studios.  A few things on this trip highlighted to me how different the kids were to what I was like at their age.  Few if any of these things were new to me, but realising or remembering them all in a short space of time was interesting.

  1. Within about 20 minutes of leaving on the Thursday morning, before we even got to Darlington, some of the kids were asking 'are we nearly there yet?'  There weren't joking.  They actually thought that, after 20 minutes of driving, we were probably nearly at London.  They had no idea how far away London is.  When, at one point, we said we were near Leeds, hardly any kids had heard of the place.
  2. Because we were going to the Warner Bros studios, we had a Harry Potter quiz on the way down.  I wrote it (obviously), and based the questions on the books (even more obviously).  That meant that some of the questions couldn't be answered if you'd only seen the films.  Almost all the kids had seen at least some of the films.  Hardly any had read any of the books.  I was actually shocked at how many of these pretty big Potter fans hadn't read any of the books.  When we asked why, they simply said 'I don't read'.  Like, ever.  Reading was just not something they did.  Over the course of the whole trip, I saw just one child (out of 55) reading a book.
  3. Most of the kids took spending money in the region of £150-200.  For a two-day, one-night trip.  At their age I would probably have taken £20.  Wow.
  4. We spent an hour or so walking round London, seeing some of the sights.  Many of the kids really struggled to deal with so much walking.  An hour.  At a relatively slow place, with a fair few pauses.  They were just not used to walking anywhere.
  5. One kid lost his phone.  His reaction?  He looked for it in his bag, and his hotel room, and then shrugged and said 'It's ok, I'll get an iPhone for Christmas'.  The culture of disposability.
  6. At the Harry Potter studios, most of the kids had their phones or cameras out to take photos.  Fair enough.  But some of them did this to such an extent that they barely even looked at the exhibits.  They were using their phones instead of their eyes.  They could have just stayed at home, given me a camera, and got me to email them the photos when I got back, and they'd have had pretty much the same experience.  Ok, that's a slight exaggeration, but they did seem to be sacrificing the moment itself for the sake of recording the moment.
  7. Having said all this, it was very sweet to see their reactions when we got back to school on the Friday night.  It was as if they'd been away for a month, they were so delighted to be home.  Of course, for many of them, it was the longest time they'd been away from home.

As I said, I knew all this stuff.  But seeing it all in a short space of time really brought it home to me how much the childhoods of these kids were different to mine.  Something to ponder.

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