I'm reading The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein, and it's scaring me to death. For those who haven't seen this yet: all the technology we've been pouring into classrooms for the last ten years? The studies are starting to come in, and the news ain't good. It seems that while we have a generation of young people who are tech savvy, they're not really doing anything productive with it (in fact, they're reading less and achieving less). High schools and colleges who once decided to "go digital" with laptops for every student are now dumping the technology and scrapping the programs, citing no academic progress. Today's college seniors are testing at the same level as high school seniors of 1955. I'm only halfway through the book, but Bauerlein keeps asking the same question: where are all the academic improvements we were supposed to get with the infusion of technology?
Professionally, I'm worried. We've put all this emphasis on technology, but it apparently isn't getting us anywhere. I like it as a communication tool, but that seems to be all it's good for. Could it be possible that because students are using a totally different skill set to learn, we should be testing on those skills instead of the "antiquated" ones we're teaching now? What if concentration falls to the wayside and multi-tasking becomes the norm? The testing methods will have to change dramatically as well. What happens if, God forbid, reading and writing are no longer measurable skills? What school system could possibly accept that?
Personally, I'm frustrated. I have a sixteen-year-old who fits a lot of this modern technology criteria, and his performance levels are, shall we say, consistent with the research. Lots of "screen time," and even if his critical-thinking skills are stimulated by his X-Box games, the school-related output isn't what it could be--or used to be.
The whole thing is worrisome, and I'm hoping that the outlook isn't as dismal as Bauerlein makes it sound. (Maybe I should finish the book. Maybe there's a happy ending after all.)
There is, however, one really funny aspect to this book.