Instructor sticks to the basics

Try to imagine your daily routine without essentials such as a vehicle or cell phone. Now imagine how you would get to work, school and other necessary destinations. Without those two things, life can be much simpler and less hectic, but in today’s society, the simple life seems almost unattainable. However, for English instructor Amy Acosta, the simple life is her reality. Acosta resides in Hammond with her family and thrives off simple ideals.
“I live close to campus, so riding my bike to work actually simplifies many aspects of the driving to and parking on campus that frustrates drivers,” Acosta said. “For instance, I’m never held up in a traffic jam, and I have the best parking place possible-right outside the door of [D Vickers], where my office and classes are.”
When Acosta lets her students and superiors know she does not use a cell phone on a daily basis, she says they are shocked. In all her living years since cell phones became a mass part of U.S. culture, she claims she has never been in a life-threatening situation where she absolutely needed a cell phone. Her family does, however, have an emergency pre-paid phone they take with them on long road trips.
“I do make it through every single day without one, incredible as that sounds to most people,” Acosta said. “‘What if there’s an emergency. What about your kids?’ is a typical response. My kids and husband and I all work and go to school in a three block radius of each other.”
The city of Hammond is small, tight-knit and somewhat pedestrian friendly. Acosta does have access to a vehicle but chooses to bike to work willingly. The only time she will not is in dangerous weather.
“We do drive, though, when necessary. By necessary, I mean when it is dangerous to ride a bike,” said Acosta. “Many of the roadways in Hammond are not bike friendly, or pedestrian friendly, for that matter, and the increased number of  people texting while driving-now a bigger problem than drunk drivers for the day time bike rider-makes biking unnecessarily dangerous.”
Acosta has mixed feelings on today’s technology and how it is changing her students and their motivation to succeed. Classrooms are no longer filled with conversation, but with silence. Walking through campus is more like a chore as opposed to a delight.
Though technology does speed things up a bit, and Acosta does spend most of her time in a campus so filled with innovation and technology, she feels it can all be extremely alienating.
“In our university community, I do feel a sense of alienation and isolation abetted  by technology, particularly texting. In the ‘old’ days, when students waited for a professor to come to class, the initial uncomfortable silence among strangers was broken when someone would ask a fellow student about the day’s reading, comment on the horrid weather or compliment someone on a spot-on answer from the previous class’s discussion,” Acosta explains. “Now when I walk into a classroom, every head is bent, thumbing away. The world [has been] reduced to a screen smaller than the palm of my hand. On campus, people do not look up and greet one another, but keep their heads burrowed in their phones, often at the risk of running into others.”
Despite the negativity surrounding the phenomenon of text messaging, Acosta has immense faith in her students and the millennial generation.
“I have great faith in the young adults of this generation, and I see the future a better place because of them,” Acosta said. “They’re compassionate, tolerant, concerned and, perhaps most significantly, adept at using technology to effect positive change nearly instantaneously.”
Some positives to technology impacting her students also show up in the classroom with the negatives of crotch-texters. The immediacy of cell phones has helped her with problems her students may have.
“The positives are just as great,” Acosta said. “There are many times when I ask my students to take out their cell phones to access some information or an image. Heck, sometimes I ask to borrow a cell phone and make a phone call, for instance, if a student is having trouble with his Moodle account. I can call computing services right there in class and help the student immediately. This is a great thing.”
As an English teacher, some of Acosta’s ideals stem from literary genius and philosopher Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau is known for his love of simplicity, and living in the woods for two years on his own prerogative. Though Acosta would not go as far to leave civilization, she is heavily inspired by his legacy of simplicity.
“I subscribe to Thoreau’s doctrine,” Acosta said. She quotes Thoreau, “Simplicity, simplicity, simplicity. I say, let your affairs be as two or three, and not a hundred or a thousand; instead of a million count half a dozen, and keep your accounts on your thumb nail.”