Monday, February 7, 2011

Carolyn's Book Reflection

While reading “The Dumbest Generation”, by Mark Bauerlein, I was struck by several thoughts. First, as soon as I started reading the book, I felt a sense of aggravation and frustration for the current generation. The author implies that since this current generation of learners is using technology so much, they are more ignorant than previous learners. “They seem so adept with technology, multitasking to the amazement of their parents. They care so much about the trappings of cool, and are so conversant with pop culture. But they blink uncomprehendingly at the mention of Reformation, the Second Amendment, Fellow Travelers, and Fellini. (34, Bauerlein) I view the availability of technology for the use of today’s learners just the opposite of the author. They like using technology; it excites them, and in turn, encourages them to use it to research. When I asked a current Senior in High School about the above items, they knew at least a little about each of them. I credit technology for this.

Secondly, again, the author implies that just because a student can multitask with technology, they are learning nothing about the whole world. “On one hand, they navigate the multimedia environment like pros, wielding four email accounts and two virtual identities, jumping from screen to keypad to iPod without pause, creating “content” and expressing themselves to the world. On the other hand, they know remarkably little about the wider world, about civics, history, math, science, and foreign affairs, and their reading and writing skills remain at the 1970s level.” (94, Bauerlein) Here, also, I disagree with the author. I see not learning at the 1970s level as an asset not a deterrent to learning. The mind-boggling hours of reading extremely uninteresting facts vs. research with interesting technology is a huge plus to this generations learning.

Finally, I did find a common attitude with the author when he discusses how the amount of technology available to learners today is making them, and all of us, lazy. “In the 2006 National Survey of Student Engagement, a college counterpart to the High School Survey of Student Engagement, seniors in college logged some astonishingly low commitments to “Preparing for class.” Almost one out of five (18 percent) stood at one to five hours per week, and 26 percent at six to ten hours per week. College professors estimate that a successful semester requires about 25 hours of out-of-class study per seek, but only 11 percent reached that mar”. (6, Bauerlein) As a High School teacher, I find constant frustration when surveying the study habits of students. When left to their own resources after school and on weekends, they are participating in technological activities but very little of it is for educational purposes.