Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Who lays claim to the dumbest generation?

Blogger didn't want to open up yesterday for me when I had time, which proved to be a blessing in disguise. Let me first start by saying I was planning on commenting about this great letter to her colleagues on change in schools by Sheryl Nussbaum-Beach. It's a great post that we may bring back later. Sorry, Sheryl, by Will Richardson caught my attention today. I'm sure you'll understand.
Will tweeted this morning about a new post he had called "Not 'The Dumbest Generation.'" Obviously a great title for a post to get people's attention. He discusses the book The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerline. I will admit, I have not read the book, so I suppose someone will say I'm only seeing one side of the story. Well, I'm really not going to jump on the book. It's the discussion in the comments section that I really wanted to discuss. According to Will's post, Bauerline claims that the students we have are going to be the "dumbest generation" because the web doesn't allow students to become better at many skills that will prove useful in real life situations, such as the ability to read/write, interpret or interact with society. 
Chris Sessums made a great point: The read-write web, Web 2.0, etc., are nothing without the content we put in them. Right on! Paper and pencil are nothing unless you do something coherent and worthwhile with them. Otherwise they just take a space on a desk. It's the same thing with technology: It's not an extra tool (which we've posted more times than we care to link to). It's the continual use of technology as an extra tool which makes it unwanted, unused and unknown in education. 
The argument that I have and see most often in the post and comments is that, it's not the kids' fault. I feel we are making ourselves into the dumbest generation because we have been given and have created all of these great tools that we are not educating the younger generation on. Most parents don't do it at home. Most teachers don't do it at school. I read more and more situations where districts either have the resources (hardware, proper filtering, etc.) and don't utilize it or districts are so locked down there isn't anything to use. It's a fundamental change in the way that administrators think and educators teach that will allow us to fully utilize what is at our fingertips. While that is so much easier said than done, you have to start with one person, who shares what they are doing with one other person, creating a virus effect. Yes, you will have teachers that need results, examples and their hand held, but the sooner we start, the sooner technology will be intertwined in education. We can talk about it all we want, but what are we really doing about it?
What we are doing today by not allowing our students to create meaningful content on the Internet is the exact same thing that would happen if you would've left paper on the shelf 100 years ago. It would've sat there, longing for a pencil and a great idea. Right now, the read-write web is just sitting there, waiting for some good ideas to appear on them. They can't manipulate themselves. They need your students and your ideas. 

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