Nobles Parents' E-Newsletter

October 2010

Nobles Parents E-Newsletter October 2010

A Matter of Time by Ben Snyder, Head of Upper School

I enjoy Back to School Night because I encounter all sorts of parents who – in the mad rush between classes – express gratitude for their child’s opportunities at Nobles and heap praise on teachers. In recent years, however, I’ve had more conversations about the challenges of getting their children back into "school mode," how homework seems to be expanding to fit the time available and how stress levels appear to be escalating.

These conversations reminded me of a recent New York Times story that many of us at Nobles have been talking about. Matt Richtel's "Attached to Technology and Paying a Price” affirmed much of what many have observed in working with adolescents in an era of smart phones, instant messaging and open wireless networks. Adolescents are compelled to stay connected with one another (this has been true since the time of Plato) and these devices have not only made that task easy and relatively inexpensive, but also have driven it away from the prying eyes of parents (Does anyone else remember sneaking in phone calls to boy- or girlfriends hoping parents wouldn’t pick up on the other line?). During the summer, this kind of communication is often endless and takes place at all hours of day and night, but doesn’t have an impact on academic performance. When school begins, however, those habits can be devastating in terms of sucking up time and energy that needs to be used for study, sleep, food and family time.

For me, the most important affirmation in the article is “the myth of multitasking” – which your son or daughter will insist he or she is very good at and has no adverse impact on study habits or academic results. Unfortunately, the science does not support this protestation and if you take five minutes to read the article, I know it will motivate you to find a way to talk with your children about the importance of creating boundaries around the use of technology for social purposes. Develop a list of potential changes in behavior that could help limit or better focus that time (leave the phone in the kitchen when a child goes upstairs to study, or shut down the wireless signal at a designated hour as we do in the dorm, for example) and try to get him or her to understand that overall health and academic well-being will benefit from such shifts in behavior.

Our research around the experiences of Nobles' graduates always shows that "time management" is one of the most important educational and life lessons that students learn during their time here – and much of that comes because of the breadth of challenge we put in front of them. That being said, we all need to be vigilant in helping young people figure out how best to use their time while also managing the social cauldron of adolescence – especially in a world where Facebook, IMing and texting are dominant.

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