DSC_3827_JPG_t285I lost a student in the woods last week. My General Arts and Science students I co-ordinate at Sir Sandford Fleming College were out doing a tree disease survey and were scattered throughout a couple hundred hectare woodlot. They had simple instructions to head back to the designated meeting area — a fork in the trail at the base of a large hill — at exactly 10:40 am. And they did — all except one, the same student who I wrote about a few weeks back who had a porcupine urinate on his head because he didn't listen to my warning calls (see my blog in February if you didn't get a chance to read that one).

The group waited a good twenty minutes. But it got colder out and everyone started growing restless. It also didn't help matters that this particular student always had a knack to piss everyone off during field trips with his tardiness and lack of respect for others.

Anyway, I made the leadership decision to begin following his tracks in the snow and locate him the old-fashion way. I figured it would be easy due to the spring corn snow and that he only had a couple hundred hectares to get lost in. Besides, it would be an ample opportunity to impress the other students with my tracking skills.

I was wrong. The students ended up impressing me. "He's back at the bus" they told me. "How do you know that?" I responded. "We just text messaged him" they said. "He's been sitting on the bus for over an hour."

Wow. Forget my tracking ability. The student's wit and ability to communicate with modern technology saved the day. How embarrassing.

I'm forty-five years old, which means I should be timid towards things like Text messaging, Facebook, bloggers and Yahooing or Googling. I'm characterized as a Generation X, not Y. I grew up without the aid of an ATM, didn't have a credit card in high school, was amazed at using a calculator rather then a slide ruler in math class and believed what most politicians didn't fib when they gave a speech on TV.

Truth be known, I did have a problem with the new wave of technology; that was until my students at the college I have taught at for close to twenty years giggled at me fumbling through my lectures. I knew to teach them anything I had to switch gears and keep with the times, even stay ahead of them if I possibly could. That day in the woods made it perfectly clear that I better get with the times. Our next trip out, I'll be loaded down with my regular fair of GPS, SPOT and Map and Compass; but now I'll be adding a personal BlackBerry — and if all else fails I can still track the lost student down if I had to, either that or leave this guy at home next trip. That's if there's a next time for him. Technology or not, his attitude towards others has helped spawn his failing grade in my course.