Skills

We’ve all got to face the facts. We live in a world where we cannot escape the constant buzzing and humming of phones, televisions, and computers. We may think that we control this technology, but how much influence do all of these devices have on our lives? Let’s take a quick test to find out. Answer the following the questions in the most honest manner, choosing the one you would most likely relate to:

tech table

Now, if most of your answers are A, you’re a little too dependent on technology. If most of your answers were B, you’re not dependent on technological gadgets to get your work done, and you’re self-reliant and you’re willing to talk to other people directly, without a medium of an electronic thingamajig.

In all honestly, I answered mostly B, and I’m happy about that because I abhor being dependent upon anything. But what if I were to answer mostly A? Would I need some sort of “digital detox?” Perhaps I would. Surely enough, technology is very important. I should point out here that without technology, man obviously would not have come thus far in civilization. Not to mention, technology has been around since humans have been around—tools such as wheels, spears, and maybe even fire are examples of innovations man has come up with to make human life easier and bearable. We do not recognize technology and all the forms it comes in immediately, but it does loom in every corner, trying to simplify and automate our lives every moment of the way.

I often catch myself admiring my elders who got their schoolwork done without the help of the Internet. I mean, how did they do it, after all? Our generation is so dependent upon the Internet for almost every single purpose in life: education, entertainment, networking, etc. The possibilities are endless with the Internet. Also, with living in a technologically developed country such as America, Internet access is replete. We go into malls, coffee shops, schools, and offices and receive the instant gratification of Internet connectivity. I’ve almost come to think “How can we survive without the Internet?” The web is just such an integral part of our lives now. I feel like people our age have almost become far too dependent on it, and maybe it’s time to take a step back and reevaluate our life decisions.

We do not need electronic gadgets to solve every single one of our problems. Maybe it’s time to start using other people for advice, books for knowledge, and the outdoors for relaxing. We need to get away from these digital screens that we are glued to and realize that there’s so much more to our lives, and we cannot waste our precious time in front of a synthetic screen with dancing figures.

Before you get me wrong, I am definitely and undoubtedly an avid user of technological products. I use my laptop to get most of my schoolwork and financing done, my phone to look up directions and text my friends, and my television to watch Pretty Little Liars and Discovery Channel. Technology such as this plays a pivotal role in my life. I am certainly not trying to bash technological inventions or those who routinely use them.

However, I have the simultaneous feeling that I waste each minute I spend in front of a computer or television. I feel I could better use my time…I could go outside and take a walk, read a book on my swing, or be volunteering in a local shelter. I have this perpetual fear that I am not going to get all my work done or my dreams accomplished each time I sit down in front of a screen. I want to travel around the world, meet new people, and try new cuisines.

What’s the point of having friends, an education, or even a backyard if you cannot use it, since you’re too busy staring at a pixellated surface? What are we if we do not utilize our knowledge and spend time with the people around us? What if we aren’t grasping all the opportunities which are present to us because we’re capsized by some electronic device?

The only advice and plea of freedom I can proffer is to step away from these gadgets, and maybe be artistic, passionate, athletic, or focused on other areas of life. Technology will not solve our problems, only we can. Perhaps it’s time to start doing that. Let’s not be a lame generation that always stares at our phone screens…let’s be exciting. Let’s innovate. Let’s capture every ounce of our youth and turn it into something special. After you’re done reading this on your computer or phone screen, what are you going to do?

Image: Symo0, Flickr 

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Alternative Education Highlight: High Mountain Institute

Education comes in all shapes and sizes; there has never been a “one size fits all” when it comes to learning. Figuring out how you learn best is a challenge that you should continue to tackle until you discover what works best for you personally. Carpe Juvenis recently sat down with Megan Morrow, High Mountain Institute (HMI) alum, to talk about the high school semester program she took part in her junior year. Megan now studies at Johns Hopkins University where she majors in Global Environmental Change & Sustainability.

HMI is a program for academically driven high school students interested in an outdoor educational experience. HMI focuses on building students’ relationships with nature and their community through full physical and emotional integration. Based in Colorado, students take AP level place-based classes in tangent with learning survival and camping skills. There is a campus with off-the-grid cabins and fully functioning classrooms where students live and study when they are not busy leading hiking expeditions and camping explorations.

HMI offers a range of programs: Semester, Summer team, Apprentice Program, High Peaks Adventure, and Wilderness Medicine and Avalanche Safety courses. If you’re interested in applying to HMI, click here – applications for Fall 2014, Spring 2015, and Summer Term 2014 are due February 15, 2014.

Without further ado, we’d like to introduce you to Megan Morrow. Read on to learn more about her experiences at High Mountain Institute!

Carpe Juvenis: What exactly is High Mountain Institute?

Megan Morrow: High Mountain Institute (HMI) is an outdoor education program combined with experiential education. There are around fifty students from around the United States and you go on a set of three backpacking expeditions that are interspersed throughout the semester. You take normal classes that you would in school but you continue them when you’re on your hiking trips.

CJ: Would you recommend that someone apply to HMI and why?

MM: Yes, definitely! I was really hesitant to go and spent the entire month after I got in deciding whether or not I wanted to go. I actually replied late saying I would. But [HMI] helps prepare you for going away to college because you’ve already done it before for four months, and being in a small community forces you to deal with people. But [the staff] also teaches you about conflict resolution, getting along with people, and working with group dynamics. Its something I never thought I would be able to do … but being able to spend more than a month in the Colorado and Utah wilderness is amazing. I would have never been able to do that in my regular high school.

CJ: What is a challenge or difficulty you faced that took you by surprise?

MM: I expected that I would be homesick – and I was – but I got over it. The hardest struggle for me that I didn’t expect was that it took me a really long time to adjust back into real life again. I got so close to the people [at HMI] that I had a really hard time going back to school.

CJ: How did you feel about the academic aspect of HMI?

MM: The academics I think are really, really good. You have scheduled time to do work every night for two hours. [And work is continued on hiking trips] so you’ll have English class discussing Henry David Thoreau, or you have to do a science lab on your expedition walking around looking at trees, collecting data, writing essays, and all that. The other component is leadership training; you go over types of leadership, how to be a good leader, and you have to be “leader of the day” twice throughout an expedition where you lead your small group of students and you have to use topographical maps and make decisions about when to rest and how far to walk. As expeditions go by you become more and more independent.

CJ: Is there a certain “type” of student that should go to HMI?

MM: I think it definitely helps to be an outdoorsy person, but it was a mixture of people. It’s been interesting to see how [the students in my semester] have all grown up through college because we’re not all the same type of person. I think what’s interesting about something that [happens] in high school is that I was still young enough that it helped mold me. I was young enough to not come into it with such a strong identity that I wasn’t willing to be changed by it. I was sixteen when I went.

CJ: Has HMI stuck with you in any way?

MM: That’s actually where I started getting interested in environmental science. It’s a natural science program there so we would do water tests near old mines and learn about pollution and go to logging areas and learn about the succession.

Carpe Juvenis would like to thank Megan for her time and insight about HMI! For more information about this awesome person, check out her study abroad blog, as well as her professional blog

Photos courtesy of Megan Morrow