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Putting Technology in Its Proper Place

The Principal's Blog
October 28, 2021

Announcing RMCA’s Book of the Year for 2021-22:

The Tech-Wise Family: Everyday Steps for Putting Technology in its Proper Place by Andy Crouch (2017) 

If you care about your child’s future, buy this book. Trust me and go to an online bookseller (other options like Alibris exist besides Amazon, by the way) or one down the road (yes, those still exist as well) and spend around $10 to get your copy. It may be the most important purchase you make this year. 

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If you are still reading, I am assuming that you have purchased your copy. Congratulate yourself for not procrastinating and for taking the next step to helping your child flourish. If not, then buy the book! I promise that RMCA and I receive no royalties. But, I care very much about children and families. 

* * * * * 

Ok, you get my point. But if you choose to keep reading, be warned. You will be accountable for your choices in helping your child grow or not. We all are. It is one of the inescapable privileges and responsibilities as parents that what we do counts forever.

I’ve read a number of books this year about many topics, many of them very relevant to where we are as a community, culture, and church. Crouch’s book tops them all in terms of accessibility and relevance. Anyone reading this article has experienced in some way the urgent need of helping our children right now, today, learn to live with the constantly growing and invasive nature of technology. Crouch’s small but powerful text goes a long way to ask and answer questions of how to help our children set limits for themselves and to choose a different way of living than what is offered by our culture. 

Even more important than breaking habits of overconsumption of media and tech, Crouch gives many great ideas on habits to start with one’s family. Ideas such as intentionally setting up one’s home for creativity, building a schedule that prioritizes building relationships, and helping a child (and one’s self) counter boredom are transformative.

Crouch is an excellent, concise writer. He is also humble and personable. He shares stories from his own family’s experience as well as many others. He also connected with the Barna Group, the preeminent religious (mostly Christian) research group which has reported for decades the growing challenges of growing up as a faithful Christian in the United States and beyond. He includes a lot of interesting numbers that demonstrate that our families (a) are not alone in these challenges, and (b) that they are serious. 

In the book’s Introduction, Andy Crouch writes,

“There is a better way. It doesn’t require us to become Amish, entirely separating ourselves from the modern technological world, and it doesn’t require us to deny the real benefits that technology provides our family and our wider society. But let me be direct and honest: this better way is radical. It requires making choices that most of our neighbors aren’t making. It requires making choices that most of our neighbors in church aren’t making…

This better way involves radically recommitting ourselves to what family is about--what real life is about. Our homes aren’t meant to be refueling stations, places where we and our devices rest briefly, top up our charge, and then go back to frantic activity. They are meant to be places where the very best of life happens.” 

Whether or not you are interested in having your child educated in a school like RMCA that values Ambleside, Charlotte Mason, classical, or even Christian education, you need this book. Your extended family needs this book. Your neighbors need it. 

As our book of the year at RMCA, we will be spending some measure of time reading and discussing this together. I look forward to using this as a text at some of our Skylark Social parent events. I hope to invite parents on campus at other times as well to talk about how we individually and as a community can help our children be more prepared than they are now (and certainly more prepared than we were, when the information revolution exploded some 25-30 years ago). It doesn’t mean that we will all come to agreement on where each of us will draw the line. It does mean, though, that as a community we get to work together to inform each other’s choices as what happens in one household affects others. I believe that this text will help each of us grow in considering the long-game in cultivating our children’s desires, imagination, and loves. It can also help us prepare them to take our places successfully and faithfully in their own families, churches, schools, and communities. 

None of this should have to do this alone!

I invite each person reading this to take me seriously on this. If two decades of educational experience has taught me anything, it is that children need our wisdom, discernment, and love in guiding them in their choices, particularly with something as powerful as information and social technology. 

And if you still haven’t purchased the book, here’s a link for a quick purchase.  For around $10, you may join this vital conversation that will affect your own and other children. We also have a few copies in the parent library in our front office for you to check out and/or preview before purchasing. 

By the way, if you are newer to RMCA, now is also a good time to catch up on the following previous ‘books of the year’ at RMCA:

  • For the Children’s Sake: Foundations of Education for Home and School, by Susan Schaeffer Macaulay (2020-21) 

  • Rare Leadership: Four Uncommon Habits for Increasing Trust, Joy, and Engagement in the People You Lead, by Marcus Warner and Jim Wilder (2019-20) 

  • The Collapse of Parenting: How We Hurt Our Kids When We Treat Them Like Grown-ups, Leonard Sax (2018-19)

These are all must-reads. Consider purchasing one or more (or borrowing them from our parent library at school) after or while you read Tech-Wise Family. 

Serving and growing together,