After reading “The Dumbest Generation-How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future” by Mark Bauerlein, I have a new opinion concerning technology and this generation. I don’t agree with everything that Bauerlein wrote about, but agree he does make some good points. The digital age was supposed to make gaining information easier and thus increase student achievement. Bauerlein repeatedly states facts that go against this statement. He said, “The enhancements and prosperities claimed to turn young Americans into astute global citizens and liberated consumers sometimes actually conspire against intellectual growth.” (Pg. 36) The example he used to describe this statement was, “A middle-class teenager may attend a decent high school and keep a B+ average, pack an iPod and a handheld, volunteer through his church, save for a car, and aim for college, and still not know what the Soviet Union was or how to compute a percentage.” (Pg. 36)
Unfortunately, I see this happening with my own children. They have learned how to use the technology available to them to socialize with friends, watch movies, and listen to music. What they haven’t learned it how to use it correctly for gathering information. My oldest son is in his first year of college and graduated from a high school that was involved with the laptop program. He has had to submit his assignments electronically for 4 years. Now in a college situation, he is unable to write a rough draft for his English class. He struggles with expanding his thoughts and getting them on paper, but he can download any type of program needed to stay in touch with his peers.
Bauerlein goes on to explain the 2006 report called “How Well Are Students Learning” on page 195. The basic summary of this report states, “Countries with more confident students who enjoy the subject matter—and with teachers who strive to make mathematics relevant to students ‘daily lives—do not do as well as countries that rank lower on indices of confidence, enjoyment, and relevance.“(Pg. 195) What this tells me is that everything that we are asking our public education teachers to do to increase student success and promote that connection to real world aspects, is lowering this group of young adults chance to be a great addition to society, compared to other countries. That’s sad. Students need to learn independence and work habits in order to succeed. We need to step back and reevaluate whether the digital age technology is being an assistive device or a threat to the education of our students.