Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Remember to take a break if your arms go numb!

MPR's Bob Collins had a link that caught my eye on his News Cut Blog today:
A Rochester Post Bulletin columnist makes a great point today. Kids don't have the fun of snow days we used to have when technology was in its relative infancy.

While the snow fell outside, we would go to bed with our radios within arm's reach. In the morning, as soon as our groggy little eyes opened, we would snatch the radio and lay huddled in our beds waiting for our school to be announced. The moment we heard the name of our town, we would fly out of bed and get dressed faster than we ever would on a regular school day. At that point, we would race back to the radio to listen for the next round of announcements. We just had to hear it a second time before we could celebrate with certainty.
It's also what introduced generations of kids to the value of radio.
I had the same experience in upper elementary school through high school (late '80s through the mid '90s), waking up excitedly to find out from Steve Cochran whether I get to stay home to eat my Halloween candy and watch TV. I have fond memories of epic sledding expeditions with friends in the neighborhood (I think it was on a snow day that my brother found $42 in cash in an alley we were trudging through), often followed by sessions in front of the Nintendo in soggy snow pants.

I wonder how many kids just don't listen any more, even those who, unlike the Rochester writer's example, don't have access to the internet. Melissa is a Minneapolis high school teacher, and her school told the faculty that last Monday a couple dozen kids showed up for class. That's a couple dozen who were not in proximity to an operating locally-tuned radio that morning. In my day [holy crap what am I becoming?], the radio in general, and KDWB in particular, seemed inescapable in the schoolyard culture.

This is the kind of thing about which I'd love to do a study: ask the students who knew about the snow day how they found out about it. It should be a longitudinal study, collecting data at the same handful of schools every time there's a snow day over a matter of decades (starting three decades ago). When I become independently wealthy, this is the sort of thing I'll do with my time, as well as funding a serious linguistic study investigating the origins of "Duck Duck Gray Duck" and its unique isolation in this state.*

* Please note: comments that claim or imply the "correctness" or "superiority" of childrens' games with the word goose in their names will not be approved. This dictatorship is benevolent, but I have my limits. Please note that I previously approved a spam comment because it was in Japanese Kanji script, and I thought that was cool. So that's how much I value your opinion on Duck Duck Gray Duck: less than Japanese spam. Sensitive much? Yes.

1 comment:

Alex said...

I did a very informal poll of my middle school students in saint paul because I was curious about the same thing. Most students found out about the snow days the night before on the news--about 60%. The rest were about evenly split between facebook, text message or phone call from friend, and finding out the morning of via tv or radio news. Regardless of how they found found out about it, though, they were very, very happy. As was I. Erica, on the other hand, was not :)