Most of my “thinking about teaching” energy over the past few months has been devoted to using technology. Student use this, integrate that, etc.

I’ve spent the past few days in what is possibly the most beautiful and the most blighted area in the United States. That’s right…the area around the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Specifically, Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. I went up with a friend for the purpose of cruising music stores.

Though I didn’t know the exact statistic, I told him that I’d heard that only a tiny fraction of visitors to the area actually make it into the park. I was curious as to what the situation would be yesterday when we finally made it in. I was not encouraged.

Gatlinburg: congested beyond belief with people walking beneath neon and plastic signs entreating them to spend a bucket-load of cash.

The Sugarlands Visitor Center parking lot: Not nearly full, but it looked promising.

The visitor center book store: packed with folks (mostly from a tour).

The visitor center nature display: nearly empty.

The nature trail which starts right outside of the visitor center: desolate.

While I have to confess that I wasn’t looking forward to a crowded trail (mind you, I realize that it hardly counts as a trail), I was dejected to see it devoid of a single school-age child.

Maybe I need to go Thoreau (I just made that up, and I like it) with my students instead of pushing technology. Maybe that’s what I’ll do this grading period…

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