Our Perpetual Show-and-Tell World


Remember Show and Tell? If you’ve never had the opportunity to participate in this ritual of elementary classrooms, it’s essentially an open forum for students to share random objects and experiences.

At certain periods of the day/week, a teacher will provide individual students with an opportunity to rise to their feet, proudly march to the front, and present something to their classmates.

They can either SHOW (a new toy, book, trophy) or TELL (about a family vacation, Little League game, trip to the dentist).

Although the activity occasionally descends into behavior or language not suitable for an elementary classroom, for the most part, it is a wholesome experience.

I honestly don’t recall what I thought about Show and Tell, but given my introverted nature, I must have enjoyed the sit-and-listen mode much more than the stand-and-share one. Unlike some of my attention-craving classmates, I likely saved my S+T grandstanding for items truly warranting the performance – like a broken bone or new puppy.

Because I don’t have any elementary-aged kids of my own, I’m not sure whether this time-tested activity is still a mainstay of elementary classrooms. I would imagine it is, although I wonder if it still holds the excitement and anticipation it once did.

After all, the world is a much different place than it was in the ‘70s (or ‘80s or ‘90s). It isn't too hard for Facebook and texting to scoop a clunky classroom presentation.

I also wonder how today’s political correctness has impacted the activity. If Billy brings in a cool new game, for example, what if Jimmy's family can't afford to buy him the same game? Or, worse yet, what if they don't believe in playing games at all?

If you think about it, social media is really just a grand, perpetual game of Show and Tell. We get countless platforms to share anything we want (with a lot fewer restrictions than the classroom variety). And rather than having a limited audience of classmates, we can present to the world at large.

Does anyone really care what we share?

I’m often surprised.