An open letter to teachers from outer space aliens

With school starting for most students this week, I thought I would share a letter I found that suddenly appeared on my computer from nowhere, out of the blue. I’m not sure what to make of it, but I think it’s important to pay attention to.

If you decide to teach us, please don?t blame yourself for not being able to do it. It?s not your fault; things have changed quite a bit since your days. You see, over the last twenty years we have slowly invaded your classrooms from outer space. It started covertly at first, but landings have picked up at a fevered pitch lately. We sensed an unprecedented moment in your history and we pounced. It is our desire to pulverize the flesh off of you.

We know we look very much like your kind, but we are extremely alien I assure you. Don?t let the sagging costumes of our baggy pants or awkward gait lull you into complacency. We are smart and dangerous and our methods for taking over are far beyond your ability to comprehend them. Resistance is futile.

But since your world is as alien to us as we to you, we have chosen to cooperate. So if you decide to teach us, keep the following postulates (not the small, pus filled blisters) at the forefront of your modus operandi.

We can?t read. At least we can?t read for hours at a stretch, or keep our minds focused for that long, so books assigned won?t do us much good. Our attention span has evolved through current technology and your media to piece together written snippets from a variety of sources to hobble together a coherent whole.

Our information is organized across multiple channels, some of which you are not even aware of (ever heard of twitter?) and is constantly updating or expanding. Our kind see you as just another channel from which we derive our information about your world. So there. Click.

Where we?re from we are wildly connected. Information and messages flow easily from one place to another and we transport it with us on really cool, miniaturized hand held devices. Our knowledge isn?t housed in physical libraries or relegated to the confines of a classroom. I know you won?t want to hear this, but you aren?t the primary source of our knowledge on a subject. You are just one node (not the more benign pod) among many, adding a bit of value to the overall weaving of our intelligence.

We participate in the creation of content and emphasize social affiliations and active engagement.
We are a swarming, heaving hive of connectional nodes and interactions. You might often hear the buzzing of our world in the background of yours – some call it white noise, others call it cyberspace, some refer to it as the computing cloud, but everyone knows it is there even if they can?t quite place it, like a silent fart.

Maybe one day we will not be the enemies you make us out to be. Yes, we are bypassing every cherished means previously known to work in earlier earth years. But if you decide to teach us, we are confident that the unrelenting attack of information, like slime like excrement fired from a high powered pulsar rifle, will become useful knowledge with your help.

We are also extremely curious (though many won?t admit it), by the dynamic you call wisdom. We tried various means at our disposable to download it instantly into our operating systems but have been stymied in our attempts. We would like to know what it is, and how it transforms knowledge into a constructive and positive life force. Our high council assures us that only then will the total annihilation of your species be avoided.

Posted in adaptation, Attitude, Current Affairs, generational frustrations, generational stereotypes, school, stereotypes, teachers, Teaching, Technology, teenagers

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Jeff Vankooten is a speaker and author focusing on the power of resilience to effectively engage the challenges of change. He helps leaders, businesses, and organizations develop the skills necessary to thrive in an increasingly unpredictable business environment.
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