Wisdom. We haven’t found the technology, the app or the program that teaches wisdom. And we won’t. Wisdom is transferred from generation to generation. When we gather young generations of children and adolescents together into a building, when we tether them together with wireless connections around the world, when we sit with them in our living rooms, hopefully we know enough to know that we teach them more than science, reading and math. Wisdom isn’t something to be trifled with. It’s the most significant thing we have and we transfer it from one generation to the next.

Sadly, in the systems of teaching we are transforming from, the teacher wasn’t always able to be a shepherd transferring wisdom because there wasn’t time. But, in the transformed learning systems we can experience now, we can be true shepherds. And we can ensure that mature wisdom is passed on to those who will lead us one day. That’s never been more important than it is now because the world is changing, and has changed, more for digital generations than ever before. To be shepherds now is to feel the weight of the calling and the responsibility. We need shepherd-heart teachers.

The Game Has Changed

We now live in a digital world. Those of us who would be considered non-digital don’t necessarily thrive in this world but we get along just fine. Rather than fighting it, we download as best we can. We appreciate it, we use it and we marvel at it. We depend on it so much because we have to depend on it so much. Our bank forces us to depend on it. Our job forces us to depend on it. Our kids force us to depend on it. When presented with the question, “How did we ever get along without it?”, the non-digital generation usually replies that “we got along just fine without it, thank you very much”. But it’s here to stay and we get along with it, too.

There are some, much younger, who have been in the middle of technology expansion, as it moved from computers to digital, and have been first adopters, fast trackers and fluent users of digital capacity. Probably still considered “old school” in some ways but way ahead of the older generations who just get by the best they can. These are the sandwich generations who remember landline phones but watched them fade away. To these generations, there’s no nostalgic remembrance of a “car phone”. They just know they can use a phone while driving now.

The digital generations are in an entirely different world. Our grandchildren are texting, posting and tapping their way through this life. Preschoolers are routinely handed a digital device to entertain, enlighten and engage them throughout the day. Parents intentionally train their child to “x” out of the ads and commercials popping up in apps and games to ensure there’s no accidental purchases. In the beginning, there was an effort to decry the moral dilemma of using technology as a babysitter but even that is disappearing as digital becomes life.

No longer do we make distinctions of digital natives and immigrants, as we’ve now moved into second and third digital generations. We are not moving into the land of digital; we’ve settled and colonized in this land and technology has a manifest destiny that won’t stop until all corners of our culture are occupied and living comfortably within its borders. It’s just simpler now to refer to the distinctions as digital and non-digital generations. The non-digitals are being left alone, left behind or left out in this progress. They are not ignorant, just ignored. And, soon, the non-digitals will die out and only digitals will be left.

None of this is a moral outcry. Rather, it’s a wake up call to be more attentive than alarmed. Digital technology is us. And, as we dive deeper into the cultural aspects, there will come a point that forces a reality check. When we consider the promises promised right now, it’s important to know that technology won’t replace life. Innovations and progress promise everything but there comes a moment when the reality of what these can’t do levels the progress out and settles the innovations down. We have no flying cars, though dreams and promises of such were advertised when automobiles first rode into town long ago.

This reality check will not cause a decline in technology usage or proliferation but will slow the progress and bring a common sense utilization that informs the culture going forward. However, that reality check isn’t here yet and isn’t scheduled to arrive for quite awhile. Our digital generations will thrive in this digital world as adults.

So, what do we do? We, those who educate, teach and lead these generations of children. How can we best use our time with these learners wisely? Wisdom. If we do not shepherd, these generations could possibly have all information at their fingertips, all knowledge on their screens but no wisdom in their heart and minds.