Mark Bauerlein’s The Dumbest Generation filled me with mixed emotions when I read this book. Are today’s young American’s truly the dumbest generation? I think it depends on who you ask.
I don’t believe that the future of today’s digital natives is as dismal as the author tries to make this generation appear. Although he brings up valid arguments and backs them up with convincing evidence in the form of research and analysis of test scores when he discusses how test scores are decreasing in history, civics and foreign affairs, one has to ask, “Who really is to blame for this?” It is theirs, or do other’s share the blame such as parents who often times have no clue to what they are doing, or what information they are looking at, or where they are and who they are with.
Don’t misunderstand what I am saying, the author doesn’t make these comments and generalizations lightly without a vast amount of factual data to support his arguments. But I wondered to myself how much different is this digital native era from previous eras concerning what they cared about, or their lack of civic responsibility? There will always be people who care about the world and what happens in it, and some adults today are as apathetic about current events as the youth Bauerlein talks about in his book. So the fact that he generalizes all youth today in this category bothered me. I felt the author was too pessimistic, because I do believe there are sufficient youth out there that do care about the past, the present, and the future of our country.
I came upon a book review article from the Los Angeles Times that called this book a “dooms day scenario,” and I tend to agree. We as educators must continue to stimulate and challenge our students to continue to use technology in a positive way to help them become more well-rounded and worldly, and we will succeed if we perform our jobs correctly. We can show them the way, whether or not they accept the challenge and “take off” is up to them. Just like in previous history, some will, and others will not. I do not think democracy as we know it is threatened by our youth’s lack of interest. I have faith that they will be productive and responsible citizens as their predecessors were in the past.