Wednesday, April 14, 2010

iDon't Buy It

I'm always skeptical about books or studies or anything else that single out today's youth as being somehow dramatically different than the generations that preceded them. I think most of it is bogus to begin with and also it seems like every generation is arguing that the next generation is so completely different that none of the old models still apply.

Still, there seems to be a market for that kind of stuff and so now we have the iGeneration. (For what it's worth, I think it's a pretty good name for the thesis.) The iGeneration, author Larry Rosen writes, is so different from all other generations because they are constantly plugged in to all sorts of personalized media. Think iPods, cell phones, etc. This, apparently, means that they learn in ways that would have been unthinkable to previous generations.

To steal a conceit, iDon't buy it.

Without question kids these days have access to a level of technology that did not exist even in conception when their parents were in school. So in that sense, things have changed. But has that technology actually changed the way kids learn? Frankly, I have a little trouble seeing how an iPod is going to realign my conception of history.

Certainly, teaching methodologies and techniques must change as technology changes. I mean, we don't want to go back to using slates and chalk for every assignment. Technology can be a very good thing. But we also don't want to overstate the case and say that it's changed everything. Kids are still kids. In all likelihood, they aren't that much better or worse than the generation that came before them or the generation that will come after them. The wrapping may be a little different, but it doesn't change the fundamentals.

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