Coming back from the Dominican Republic, we found one major theme that seems to include both American and Dominican Students. Students in both cultures are enamored with electronics, to the point of being amused to death.
A book recently read by a few staff at Hillcrest speaks to this topic. The book is by Neil Postman called, Amusing Ourselves to Death. In the book, Postman compares George Orwell's 1984 to Aldous Huxley's A Brave New World. Postman's forward is included in the video above.
Many of the critiques Postman makes in his book were realized by chaperons on the Dominican Mission trip. The adults watched as dinners and time spent with the young-adult Dominican translators were met with a subtle distraction brought on by technology.
The Dominican students aren't alone though. We work hard at Hillcrest to prepare a group of students whose heart yearns for the things of God. We have found a need to regulate the amount of media, technology and digital communication our students are exposed to during their Hillcrest experience. In doing this, students appear more engaged and concerned with the issues they're presented in their education at Hillcrest Academy.
What we have found is students don't naturally use the amazing tools of technology to enhance the world around them. They are instead distracted by the barrage of discombobulated meaningful and meaningless information. Many haven't been instructed to translate the messages communicated through media, discovering what is important and what is distracting from a Biblical viewpoint. Hillcrest classes have been working to train students to dicypher media messages through a heavy dose of Biblical training with slight hints of media.
From the constant flow of secular media, we have seen an addicted generation of students. Many often act like withdrawn junkies when social media and networking tools are taken away. Technology is no longer being engaged as a resource, but is instead a vice of disengagement and distraction from the challenging world students are faced with.
A recent Barna study on Technology and the Family highlights these feelings from HLA staff. The study shows key findings in media, social networking and web-based resources. Their analysis states that families who are intentional in verbal communication see technology enhance their connections as a family. The adverse effects that many think technology can have, a feeling of disconnection and miscommunication, were experienced in families who didn't intentionally establish communication without technology. Barna's research points to the reality that technology is an amplifier, not a tool to stop distractions.
Distractions take many shapes and forms for us. Between media, social networking, and technology, there are also modes of entertainment that continually work to distract from the challenges of the world. However, after spending a week in the Dominican Republic with a group of 37 people, sharing God's message of love, hope and salvation, we're excited to experience the final 7 months with our students. We believe that they are developing discernment in separating distractions from reality.
We have seen evidence that students are beginning to understand the reality of humanity, and the value that each person bears, because they're an Image-bearer. Our prayer now is that they would not be distracted and revert to media's pull towards self-gratification. We have a great hope in seeing student'spassion for communicating Christ in the Dominican Republic. We look forward to the ongoing accountability given to our students to communicate the Gospel to their friends, school and community at Hillcrest.
We continue to work and pray that the Spirit would continue to mold them into believers who proclaim Christ and worship Him passionately, finding all peace, hope and significance in the one true God.