Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Dumbest Generation ~ By Patrice Lewis

Bauerlein's concerns are that the ignorance of our young people will result in the nation sliding into apathy. I will add, do you think it's all a giant plan? Is this plethora of electronic marvels designed specifically to distract the younger generation from developing an interest in civics or politics or history? I'm not one for conspiracies so I won't take it that far, but it does make me wonder sometimes.

I have my own concerns. Into what kind of world will our homeschooled, literate girls be launched? Our daughters will be square pegs in round holes. Indifferent to the exploits of Hollywood dribble, unconnected with "friends" through Facebook or Twitter, deprived of cell phones (because they don't need them) … what kind of freaks will our kids be when they leave for college?

It is a terrific column by Patrice Lewis, as always. But, I don't quite agree with it.

I understand the concerns that Patrice and Mark Bauerlein have about the detriment of our children's intelligence because of technology. Electronic devices offer a great deal of time away from the distressing events of the world. You know, a "Time 2 Escape." However, I believe that there is another side of this story that should be discussed.

What I believe is the REAL problem with the children comes down to parenting, and not the tools of technology as Mark Bauerlein suggests! And, when it comes down to it, what Patrice wrote in her column actually supports my opinion. Okay, so Patrice is actually educating her children without the "highly anticipated benefits of technology" that were supposed to be the "cutting-edge intellectual stimulants for young minds." But, even Patrice admits it: Her children will be "freakishly" technologically illiterate when they attend college: "Into what kind of world will our homeschooled, literate girls be launched? Our daughters will be square pegs in round holes."

Well, Patrice continues on to say, "Whatever freaks our girls turn out to be, they won't be dumb ones. They'll be literate ones. If that makes them freakishly different, so be it."

What I am suggesting: If people depend on the public indoctrination system as the lone educator of our children, and then the kids go home and play with their electronic gadgets for the remainder of the day, should we expect them to be intelligent? The solution is parenting. How about limiting the time the kids can play with their electronic toys? How about getting kids to play outside now and then, without the gadgets, but with just their own imagination and creativity? A little game of kickball, perhaps? Badminton? Volleyball?

And then, when it comes down to educating our children, let's start with limiting the amount of power the federal government has in deciding what they learn. Let's just go back to the three R's: Reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic.

Patrice has had the right idea all along. She developed her children's interest in literature and learning by being a great mom and homeschool educator. But, let's not be like Bauerlein and blame technology for the diminished intelligence of our kids. The technology of today and the future really CAN be used for the good. The true issue is how the new technological tools are used.

The Dumbest Generation

By Patrice Lewis

March 12, 2011 ~ 1:00 am Eastern

© 2011

Our younger daughter (age 12) recently saw a movie called "The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen." The plot involves a Victorian-era man played by Sean Connery (swoon, thud) who gathers together some of the most famous characters from literature, including Dorian Gray, Dr. Jekyll, Tom Sawyer, Captain Nemo, etc. on a secret mission to fight a technological madman.

My daughter loved the movie and decided she wanted to read all the books concerning the characters. So far she's read "The Portrait of Dorian Gray," "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea" and "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." We have all the volumes in our personal library of 5,000-plus books, so she can just pick them up as she wishes.

Now let me jump subjects a bit. Occasionally I am in a position to hear a friend's 11-year-old son read out loud. This boy comes from a stable, intact family and there's nothing wrong with his intelligence – except he is, for all intents and purposes, illiterate. He can read, but barely; and he has no comprehension of what he's reading. This puzzled and concerned me for the longest time. How could a kid from such a great family be effectively unable to read? Then it dawned on me: Books are not a part of his life. There are none to be found in his home. He lives in a cyber-world of technological excess.

The reason I've been thinking about the contrast between my daughter's devouring of the classics versus the other child's functional illiteracy is because I'm currently reading a book called "The Dumbest Generation" by Mark Bauerlein who argues that this generation's wired-in and connected lifestyle leaves young people unable to think, work, read, or form real (versus cyber) relationships.

Originally these modern technological marvels were hailed as cutting-edge intellectual stimulants for young minds. But this has not turned out to be the case. "If the young have acquired so much digital proficiency, and if digital technology exercises their intellectual faculties so well, then why haven't knowledge and skill levels increased accordingly?" asks the author. "If the Information Age solicits quicker and savvier literacies, why do so many new entrants into college and work end up in remediation?"

Bauerlein describes the constant and ever-improving technology as "prosthetic," a chilling term when applied to the minds of children and young adults.

Most of the early and highly anticipated benefits of technology on the intellect of students have turned out to be negative – so much so that some schools are actually disconnecting or discouraging the use of digital media they had encouraged with such high hopes five years before in an effort to "unplug" kids and increase test scores.

The trouble, apparently, is while kids are frighteningly savvy when it comes to all electronic media, those skills do not translate into actual knowledge. They do not retain the material they study. "When the fifth-grade teachers assign a topic, the kids proceed like this: go to Google, type keywords, download three relevant sites, cut and paste passages into a new document, add transitions of their own, print it up, and turn it in. The model is information retrieval, not knowledge formation, and the material passes from Web to homework paper without lodging in the minds of the students."

READ FULL STORY at WorldNetDaily.com

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Patrice Lewis is a freelance writer and the author of "The Home Craft Business: How to Make it Survive and Thrive." She is co-founder (with her husband) of a home woodcraft business. The Lewises live on 20 acres in north Idaho with their two homeschooled children, assorted livestock, and a shop that overflows into the house with depressing regularity. Visit her blog at www.rural-revolution.com.

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