Irving ISD and Irving police have been the subject of significant scorn and ridicule the past couple of days, after the arrest and suspension of a 14-year old student who brought his homemade, electronic clock to school to show to his engineering teacher in a brazen display of 21st century show and tell. Fortunately, it appears that the police department has come to its senses, and no charges will be filed. (Not that any charges would have stuck to begin with. It was a clock. Unless punctuality is criminal, this is nothing more than a ridiculous misunderstanding.) No word, yet, on whether or not the district is rescinding the student’s suspension.
Look, this event will probably (hopefully) not scar this young man for life, but it is very unfortunate and certainly very uncomfortable for the boy and his family. As an educator and innovation advocate, though, it does get under my skin a bit. A few takeaways for me…
- Too many adults are technologically…well… ignorant. Teachers, parents, police, you name it. This matters. In this world, our kids‘ world, educators especially have a responsibility for being “in the loop”, and at least have a passing understanding of how things work. It was a CLOCK. Irving’s police chief has asserted, “We live in an age where you can’t take things like that to school.” I am so appreciative for the service of our men and women in blue and the challenging work they do, but this is horse hockey. I am 100% certain that kids are sharing these types of things with favorite teachers all over the country on a daily basis. If his assertion was true, it would probably be time to find an alternative to public school for our best and brightest kids.
- Independent thinking and creativity sure sometimes feel strangely undervalued and explicitly or implicitly discouraged by the powers that be (That would be us.). Sometimes we even put it in writing. This is a concrete, admittedly extreme, example of our unfortunate need to control everything about our students’ learning. Student does his own thing, student shows what he has done, student goes to jail? Just crazy.
- Ahmed has some cool parents. I got an especially big kick out of reading about his room, filled with all sorts of gizmos and electronic gadgets. Clearly, he has parents who support and encourage his exploration and interests. If you’ve ever read Tony Wagner’s Creating Innovators, you might see a similarity to a lot of the parents profiled in the book. From the Dallas Morning News article, this fantastic description:
A box full of circuit boards sits at the foot of Ahmed’s small bed in central Irving. His door marks the border where the Mohamed family’s cramped but lavishly decorated house begins to look like the back room at RadioShack.
- Ahmed seems to be the kind of kid we need more of–he’s motivated to learn, independent, creative, and excited to share what he has made. Wouldn’t it be a joy and honor to have a room full of similarly motived students?
On a cool note, this whole event is turning into a very positive thing for Ahmed and his family. Ahmed has received loads of positive reinforcement via social media, hearing from Mark Zuckerberg, Google, and even getting a tweet from President Obama, who invited him to the White House to show him the clock in question. Hopefully, he could make it past Secret Service with minimal drama and no suspension.