Paul's Heart

Life As A Dad, And A Survivor

Progress – Not Everything Is Easier

As a patient, no one can appreciate progress more than I do. Treated with some of the most extreme therapies, while I have survived decades, it has come at a cost in late developing side effects. Patients today, are now treated with better and mostly safer methods. As a consumer, it is easy to scratch our heads at all the new gadgets and vehicles and the options and purposes of the newer technologies. I can still recall many years ago, introducing my grandmother to her dishwasher, microwave, and VCR and the frustrations she had getting along in modern times.

As a parent, I have had different experiences that have caused this particular moment of reflection. As the northeast part of the US got walloped with snow, disappointment abounds for students, as this occurred over a weekend, meaning that the conditions would be cleared up enough for the start of school tomorrow. BUT, had this storm’s timing been a bit more perfect, it would have occurred overnight last night, leading to delays and closures for school.

In the old days, okay, when I was a kid, we found out about school closures on the television, watching a “ticker” (a running announcement on the bottom of the screen, now commonly used on many channels for extra content to be displayed). With our television stations located in Philadelphia covering many suburbs, it would mean that there would be a long list of schools to wait for, to see if my school had made the cut. Fortunately, it was in alphabetical order, but with the number of schools, it could be at least ten minutes until the ticker got back to the “A’s” if I did not get to the television quick enough. This was the only way that we found out if we had a delay or cancellation.

But as a parent, now we have the internet, where the school district announces delays and cancellations right at the top of their web site. Wait, there is more. There is also an automated phone system that now contacts families. Need more? Sure. An app that sends a text message directly to the cell phone, all the while everyone continues to sleep, just in case there will be extra time to get some shut-eye. No more waking up an hour early just to watch the television, possibly to be disappointed in no delay at all of school. Geesh, I wish I had studied the night before.

Nowhere have a seen more progress though, through the eyes of a parent, than that of dealing with school procedures and future planning. Just as a reminder. The microwave, heats up food quicker. The VCR, lets you see television shows while you are away. GPS has saved so many trees no longer needing 50 pages of Mapquest to navigate vacations.

But as I have learned with my daughters, some progress might actually make things more complicated, at least that is, as the Progressive insurance commercial says, “we become our parents.”

The first taste I got of this newer process was as soon as my daughters entered middle school. I no longer remember the name of the app used to enter class selections because that app is no longer used, and now there are at least three more applications that students must use. Here it comes, “why back in my day, we got a booklet with all the course descriptions, and we wrote down what we wanted, then handed the paper in.” Yep, became my parents.

The app being used, actually follows the student their whole middle and high school years, and actually keeps a tabulation on the number of credits necessary to complete their education.

Whereas I had a guidance counselor that was there to help lead me in my future path, there is an app that has you complete surveys and questionaires that now pick your best choices for vocations, so that you can pick the best education path to achieve that goal. Not sold on how accurate this method is given how fickle teenage minds can be.

Don’t get me started on the additional standardized testing by individual states. In my former state, there were actually two, that provided requirements of certain scores and status, in order to graduate. Me, just had to pass the final exam. Sure, I took the SAT’s. But those were not required to graduate.

Another app gives grades and sends out school announcements, and most importantly, processes that need to be taken care of in junior and senior years, in order to meet graduation requirements.

Okay, this is one thing that is definitely a great advancement, the college application process. There are apps for both the college boards which aid in the application process, from submitting SAT scores to the application itself. Back in the day, we actually had to submit an application, along with an essay, through the mail to the school. Today, an app allows you to simply just “add” other colleges to just one application attempt (as long as the college participates), aaaaaaaannnndddd, allows you to even submit the same essay. Kids today, so spoiled.

As I enter this next chapter with my daughters, I often find myself scratching my head, trying to keep up with the newer technologies that my daughters have no problem following. One thing I do know, as this process goes on, I am actually seeing one step further and the progress as they approach the next chapter of their lives.

Then the hard part really begins, letting go.

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