Friday, December 31, 2010

Dumbest Generation Reflection, Reva Potter

I chose this book for my book study because my son owns a copy and it was handy. My son is fifteen and had not finished the book, and now I know why. He probably could not get past some of the statistical information in the beginning without the bullets, headlines, and graphics he loves so much, being a member of a pretty spatially-enhanced upbringing.

But I would like him to read it one day. We would have a lot to talk about. The text-rich environment of his upbringing (his mother is an English teacher after all) make reading and writing and test-taking easy for him. He also is very tech-savvy (obsessed?) and uses most of the usual social networks. His Facebook page is full of all the silly stuff the author laments in the book, and I know he is a truly shallow adolescent at times. But the Internet has also allowed him to experience more intellectual pursuits along with the shallow ones. He is a pretty good researcher for his classes, critical of websites and their authors; he consults the Internet for further information when he is reading something unfamiliar; he consults the Internet for classical music and pieces for oral interp competition; he looks up background information on new authors he is reading and new musicians he finds interesting. So far, I do not see a dangerous member of the Dumbest Generation in the making.
Is my teenager so unusual? This book makes me worried that he is. Sometimes so do the ridiculous additions my middle school students put on their IGoogle pages. So do the terrible habits students have when accepting Internet garbage as research, especially when students from most grade levels think that cutting and pasting text from an article and then “changing some words” is not plagiarism. So many things in this book really struck me at the teaching level, worrying me some, and justifying some of the worries I have already developed in the last 17 years of teaching.

I agree with Bauerlein on a number of points. The Internet and the constant social connections to peers allow them to detrimentally isolate themselves within their peer group. Most students have a disconnect with adults and are often offended that adults think they know more. This may be typical adolescent thinking, but we have not done students any favors by solidifying their thinking when we believe that students know more about using technology than the teachers. They may be able to navigate tools, but thoughtful use of tech tool requires mentoring and advising – the responsibility of teachers.

Bauerlein’s issues with screen time and lack of reading also hit home for me. I agree that vocabulary is a major issue in our culture. It is becoming a dividing line between students who will succeed at their goals and students who will not. It is impacting our students’ abilities to take tests, to critically understand information, and to express their thinking. The statistics on vocabulary, comparing print and screen sources, was astounding to me. No wonder students wait for me to explain directions two or more ways after they read them for themselves; they do not have the vocabulary confidence to know what to do. My hope is that as a language arts teacher, I am using technology to improve vocabulary, showing students tools such as visual thesaurus and the components of online dictionaries to make them better consumers of online vocabulary tools.

This book raises implication about how teachers may want to approach the validity of technology use in their classrooms. When we use tech tools, we have to be aware that we also need to teach the tech tool. It would be a rare middle school student who is an expert researcher online – this needs to be taught. A middle school student will probably not create a Prezi with advanced vocabulary unless the teacher requires this. Student authors will not collaborate in Google Docs with valid editing comments unless these are mentored and modeled. The Dumbest Generation may be happy to stay that way, but their teachers should not be happy to let them.

Monday, December 20, 2010

A Reflection on the Dumbest Generation

This book was very interesting and some of the stats were my generation really this dumb? This is the question I kept asking myself as I read each chapter. This is my generation, I don't remember high school without computers and the Internet and I distinctly remember playing "Oregon Trail" on an Apple 2E in 5th grade. Google and spell check have always been a part of my generation. Can I be this ignorant and passive? Maybe. I did complete lots of community service and worked hard to attain good grades but I like the rest of my peers chose movies and gossip to reading Kerouac and Eliot. "Today's rising generation thinks more highly of it lesser traits." This quote could not be more true. Take the movie Jackass , for example, there is nothing but lesser traits in this movie and the movie made millions not based on new ideas and themes but the ability of the actors to be hit repeatedly in the groin. How do we as educators help to fix it? How do we inspire kids to read and question and come up with new ideas? The challenge at the end of the book is to help fix the problem to stop the dumbest generation from ruining America. "They may even be recalled as the generation that lost that great American heritage, forever." I liked this book although I think some of it my be extreme. As a person of this generation I find it hard to believe that everyone younger than 30 is dumb. And although we may not be reading the "classics" many of the same ideas have been translated into modern stories that kids are interested in reading. I do feel that civic and history are very important to the education and keeping our country growing and educated but I do not feel that the future is as bleak as the author Mark Bauerlien predicts it to be.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Book Reflection

Book Reflection-The Dumbest Generation by Mary Larscheid-Christensen

The Dumbest Generation brought to the surface many ideas that I had never been presented before. Mark Bauerlein paints an ugly picture of young Americans. The opportunity for young people has never been greater, but instead of being interested in books, he sees them letting their social life guide them. He feels technology, digital empowerment, visual awareness has not led to civically minded, politically inspired young Americans but to self centered social individuals.

This book was essentially filled with the opposite theory of what this class is based on. So as I learned more and more technology each week, I read about how damaging it is for us. It made quite a contrast to consider.

After being exposed to all of his opinions and data, I don’t feel the despair as he does. I am the one that likes to see the glass half full instead of half empty. I am the one to see the “good apple” in the bushel of rotten ones, so I cannot agree with his philosophy of the Dumbest Generation.

I believe you can take data and arrange it and tweak it to show just about any viewpoint you would like it to show. So I feel there are young Americans that are interested in history, civic responsibility, foreign affairs, books, religion and art.

You can always find the best or worst in a group of people. I prefer to look for and expect the best.

Monday, December 13, 2010

No More Culture Wars

Chapter 6 begins with the story of Rip Van Winkle, the popular literary character that falls asleep for 20 years then awakens to a completely different United States. This Washington Irving story reference sets the tone for the rest of the chapter. American youth has forgotten about history and civics. Most of their arguments are based on current events and readings instead of using history and classic reading to make a stronger point. There are no longer groups that demand radical change, no longer groups that argue amongst themselves to prove stronger points. The radical ideas and thinkers of Alcove 1 and Port Huron do not exist. Similar more "watered-down" groups still exist but these groups no longer have radical ideas for change, most of the newer political groups only base their ideas on current issues, media and writing. They have forgotten about history. " The Dumbest Generation cares little for history books, civic principles, foreign affairs, comparative religions, and serious media and art, and it knows less."" They are the latter-day Rip Van Winkles, sleeping through the movements of culture and events in history, preferring the company of peers to great books and powerful ideas and momentous happenings." This chapter ends will a grim look at the future of the United States. If the trends to not change our very culture will be lost. The statistics don't lie, fewer books are being checked out of the library and less kids are going to museums and art galleries. The author encourages those over 30 to change the views of and inspire the Dumbest Generation to change their ways.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

“The Betrayal of Mentors” discussed the pedagogy shift in how students are taught. The main focus of the selection is the change from passive learning to student-centered learning. As the shift is occurring, students are becoming masters of their own knowledge and they begin to seek out for their own understanding. No longer do students feel compelled to follow classic works of art, rather instead they are opting to choose their own course in learning and knowledge. Art students do not desire to draw like Picasa; they want to draw and be themselves.
Not only does the selection focus on the paradigm shift in student-learning; it also directs fault at adult negligence in acknowledging that they (adults) do have more knowledge, and students are not displaying the respect for adults as in the past. The chapter points out that “Nearly 90 percent intended to graduate(high school), and more than one-third of them stated that high school was easy. “
With this bit of factoid, we as teachers are faced with a daunting task; we need to challenge our students who are in need of this extra boost, because as the article states, only the cream of the crop will make the forward attempt and seek more learning opportunities. All students need the challenge versus just the “best of the best” students.
As the chapter continues forward, it brings about a point of mentors. Many students do not have mentor in their life that can give them excellent life-long advice. For example, the article stated “Dissociated from tradition, with nobody telling that sometimes they must mute the voices inside them and heed instead the voices of distant greatness, young people miss one of the sanative, humbling mechanisms of maturity.” Maturity is key to our high school and college students’ advancement. They must understand they do not know everything, and each individual is capable of learning from their elders. Our society has so to say, “Thrown in the hat”, on the youth and quit trying to teach simple etiquette and manners.
Without excellent mentors, many of the youth have become narcissistic. Many feel they simply can learn nothing from others, and they feel they are so special. As the book reminds us, adults are not helping the situation by always telling children “They are so special.” Narcissism is preventing students from unleashing their innermost talents because they do not even try. As they fail, as we all do, they tend to blame everyone but themselves. Man y do not see failure as teaching mechanism, rather instead they simply use it as a way to get out of work, an excuse. Success is determined by the willingness to move forward in difficult times, rather than doing everything perfect or blaming others when something isn’t perfect. Today’s students are struggling with this simple lesson.

Chapter Three Quote

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Book cover image

I chose this image for my book cover because it depicts the brain development of an adolescent youth. Research has shown that the teenage brain continues to develop past the adolescent teen years into the mid-20's. Scientists are suggesting that brain development of today's youth are being altered as a result of adolescents' constant stimulation with various forms of technology. How this will ultimately affect cognitive and abstact thinking is unknown. This image reminded me of the introduction of the book and of chapter one, because the author brings up the fact that today's youth are more interested in their own society than the world around them. It made me wonder how much of their perceptions and the importance they attach to them are a result of a change in brain development, and how it cannot help but alter their congitive development, affecting higher order and abstract thinking. It makes me wonder if this can be a contributing factor as to why they are placing less emphasis on educational and wordly facts and more emphasis to what affects them directly.

Super Summerizer Chapter 1, pages 1-38: Knowledge Deficits

Chapter one provides somber facts and statistics concerning the younger and "dumber" generation. In the book's introduction, the author points out that never before in history have our youth had opportunities for achieving greatness in areas such as education, politics, science, and cultural awareness.

However, this isn't happening. It is true that today's youth are digitally empowered, but that empoweredness isn't being used to advanced their educational knowledge. They are more interested in their social knowledge and networks. The author points out that "Never before have young people been so intensely mindful of and present to one another, so enabled in adolescent contact." While they may be interested in worldly ideas, they are so enamored with their own personal world and its realities that they tend to be cutoff from the outside world.

Chapter one provides factual evidence covering the past ten years of studies, surveys, and results of national testing of American youth in the areas of history, civics, math, science, technology, and fine arts. Results have shown that a larger percentage of American students are scoring in the lower percentiles of their knowledge in these areas. The author states that "The mental equipment of the youth falls short of their media, money, e-gadgets, and career plans."

The author is also quick to point out that he is in no way rebuking the young. He states they have many admirable qualities such as an increase in community service. But if things don't change and American youth continue to spend less time in activities such as homework and more time with instant gratification from their different types of entertainment, it will continue to have an anti-intellectual effect. He states that even though today's youth may be more advanced in critical thinking, higher order thinking should not replace historical thinking.

Super Summarizer, pp. 70-110

Chapter Three, “Screen Time,” pp. 70-110, scratches at the enamel of the glitz and gadgetry of technology, the lauding of techno-rich environments, and the promise of intellectual greatness that Web 2.0 seems to promise. Screen time of all kinds has its advocates; statistics and experts connect increased IQ scores with digital interactions, better spatial reasoning, and the increase in ability to multi-task in digital natives’ brains. The experts speak of new kinds of intelligence that have been created, including “distributive cognition” and “transmedia navigation.” They also praise the “collective intelligence” that has been created, as well as unsurpassed global collaboration.
The author of the book also shares statistics that belie these effects of Web 2.0 on our youth. The IQ scores may show greater spatial intelligence, but there is not this increase in reading and mathematics. Statistics continue to show that the greatest increase in homework scores comes from reading, not more screen time. And although incredibly able to connect globally, the students of today have less knowledge of civics, math, science, and foreign affairs. As the author states, “In an average young person’s online experience, the senses may be stimulated and the ego touched, but vocabulary doesn’t expand, memory doesn’t improve, analytic talents don’t develop, and erudition doesn’t ensue.”

Monday, November 1, 2010

SUPER SUMMARIZER for pages 39-70

Bauerlein, Mark (2008) The Dumbest Generation: How The Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future. New York: Jeremy P. Tarcher

Super Summarizer for pages 39-70 by Mary Larscheid-Christensen

Chapter Two, The New Biblophobes

A bibliophobe is a person who hates or dislikes books.

This chapter discusses the decline of reading in the USA. Books are rejected by young adults. When the Harry Potter series were published, They did spark a reinvigoration of reading. Sales of books increased giving hope to the Book Industry Study Group, which keeps track of the book business, but the reading habit didn’t continue.

Many statistics were given on how many young people don’t like to read, score lower on reading tests, and literary reading rates dropped. Young Americans are reading less all the time.

Page 59
“As the occasions of reading diminish, reading becomes a harder task. A sinister corollary to the cognitive benefit applies: the more you don’t read, the more you can’t read.”

The chapter also uses the term e-literacy for young Americans, labeling them not as illiterate, but e-literates. Explaining that they don’t worry about learning to spell, when there is spell-check. This is a new kind of literacy where they use problem solving, use rapid communication and digital technology.

Young adults think differently, they enjoy being engaged. They are digitally proficient. Their wealth, cultural access and education increase, but intellectually they suffer.


I chose this image because it could represent the overly-connected world of the digital natives. The components are all arranged and wired, deriving their purpose and energy from the other surrounding components and outside energy source rather than their own individuality, time for reflective thinking, and more complicated relationships off of the circuit board. The author of The Dumbest Generation speaks to this in his introduction: "Instead of opening young American minds to the stores of civilization and science and politics, technology has contracted their horizons to themselves..."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Dumbest Generation Creative Commons Post

The book, The Dumbest Generation, relates to this sign by way of the recent generational approach to common sense. We see this a lot now days; we are becoming too caught up in teaching children to the tests, and not providing authentic experiences, to conceptualize and internalize knowledge. Much like life, if we are too busy studying simple concepts (such as the sharp edges of the sign), we miss the big picture (bridge out ahead).

Saturday, October 23, 2010

When I think of the dumbest generation, I think of people such as myself who have a ton of tools at our disposal and just a little bit of knowledge on their implementation. The owner of this great bike lock put a lot of faith in the security it afforded. Reading the manual that came with the lock would help him use it better. Todays learners who walk into the library and head straight for the magazine rack are much the same.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Book Cover Image

I am reading " The Dumbest Generation -How the Digital Age Stupefies and Jeopardizes our Future (or Don't Trust Anyone Under 30)." The image on the cover of the actual book is very clever. It shows Transformers raising the American flag at Iwo Jima. This image seems to be saying that this generation ( anyone under 30) is not smart enough to actually know that the Transformers did not raise the flag at Iwo Jima.
The image I chose is of a little boy zoned out playing video games. I was drawn to this image because it affects me as a teacher. It seems that kids can concentrate on a video game for hours but when it comes to school it is hard for them to concentrate for more that 15 minutes.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Book Image

 This image reminded me of Chapter one on Knowledge Deficits.  Jay Leno is known for asking young americans questions on the street.  One question he asks is "Do you remember the last book you read?" One response was "Do magazines count?" So I chose this image because it made me think and smile as I thought of that section.

Welcome to Literature Circle Twelve!

Your Super Summarizer schedule is as follows:

Section One--Due October 28, Mary Day
Section Two--Due November 4, Mary LarscheidChristensen
Section Three--Due November 11, Reva Potter
Section Four--Due November 18,Barton Torbert
Section Five--Due December 2, Robin Curtis Weaver
Section Six--Due December 9, Lori Jones