Free Friday and Technology - SLO Classical Academy
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San Luis Obispo Classical Academy San Luis Obispo Classical Academy

Welcome to Down Home, San Luis Obispo Classical Academy’s blog! We are a classical school offering several options to make our education work for families with infants through high schoolers. Our signature hybrid program, which is part-time classroom and part-time home instruction, provides an engaging education for preschool through middle school (with full time options available). We also have a university model high school. This blog is meant to support and encourage on the home front because, in so many ways, the heart of what happens at SLO Classical Academy happens down home.

Semper discentes—always learning together.
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Free Friday and Technology

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It’s Friday! Well done, everyone! Whether you’re a new or returning family, it takes a little time to adjust to a new school or transition back into routines, so don’t worry if you’re not feeling settled yet. We have a long weekend ahead to gather materials, organize emails, prep your home, or just take a deep breath.

Fridays here at Down Home are just that – a day where we gently encourage you to take a deep breath, slow down, and step away from the technology and craziness for a bit to be with your family and focus on relationships. We call it “Free Friday,” or “Free by 5:00 Friday” not because it’s a day off, but as a reminder to intentionally carve out some device-free time over the weekend. It doesn’t have be exactly 5:00 pm on Friday, but that’s a great place to start if you want to make this a priority. Down Home wants to offer inspiration and occasional ideas to help you in this endeavor. 

We want you to know why we feel this is important enough to be our focus on Fridays, so our Director Susie Theule has a bit more to share: 

Technology – we love it and we loathe it.  It opens us up to new forms of relating, gathering information, and keeping us abreast on all the latest greatest trends.  It also takes our time, cries for attention, and calls our name quietly and persistently often at the expense of others and time well spent.

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At SLO Classical Academy, we often remind each other to resist the urge to be on our devices.  Why?  Is it because we have some weird thing against modern progress?  Are we afraid of technology? Do we like being behind the times?  Don't we want our kids to learn to be cutting edge?  Do we spurn new ways of thinking and the benefits those little metal and plastic gadgets can provide?

The overarching answer to those questions isn't as easy as a simple “no.”  Instead, the caution we give at the school is that regardless of what you think about technology, the time spent on it keeps us from time spent doing other things – good things, important things, life-altering things.

Let me list a few of the things that can get ignored, or at least put on the back burner, when technology controls us rather than us controlling it: Relationships.  Conversation.  Creative endeavors.  Play.  Reading.  The great outdoors.  Daily chores (I know, I know).  Learning.  Observing.  Questioning.  Games – with others.  Puzzles – the kind you touch.  Touching – the kind with people.  Exercise.  Rest.

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And not only does technology drain time from those things that for centuries have been considered “good” for us, research reveals that those who spend a lot of time on devices end up with a brain scan that is eerily similar to that of an addict.  Yep, it's true.  And… the desire to learn reduces, grades tank, relationships suffer, moods plummet, the ability to concentrate crashes, and desire for all sorts of good things (see paragraph above) reduces… immensely.  

We love technology.  We enjoy it, we use it, we integrate it (only if it enhances true learning, however).  But we see it also as something to be approached with caution, utilized with care, and kept in its place.

We all have to decide for ourselves what “keeping it in its place” looks like in our homes.  At SLO Classical Academy, we have decided what it looks like on campus. We ask kids to keep their weapons away to create the space for learning and relating.  That's what we're about – learning – and that's what our focus will remain at school.  In addition, we will unashamedly encourage our community to step away from their devices in order to look up and not miss out on all the wonders of our lives.

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Steve Jobs is supposed to have made the following comment at some point in his technology-focused life:  “I would trade all of my technology for an afternoon with Socrates.”  

Would you?  Please join us in creating space by being free of technology by 5:00 on Fridays!

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Starting soon, Down Home will be setting aside a few Fridays to introduce you to our new-this-year SLOCA teachers and staff. We started this “Friday Faces” series last year and it was a hit, so we want to keep it updated with the new faces you’ll be seeing around campus. Meet them online and then welcome them when you see them around school! 

What's your take on keeping technology in its place? Leave a comment below to discuss, or to offer suggestions!

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