Friday, March 14, 2008

Who Are Our Kids Today?

Check out the Salon online article, “What's the Matter With Kids Today?” with its subtext: “Nothing, actually. Aside from our panic that the Internet is melting their brains.” That title and comment alone should pique your interest.

The article's author, Amy Goldwasser, writes of kids today:

“...they choose to write about themselves, on their own time, rather than its being a forced labor when a paper's due in school. Regularly, often late at night, they're generating a body of intimate written work. They appreciate the value of a good story and the power of a speech that moves: Ninety-seven percent of the teenagers in the Common Core survey connected 'I have a dream' with its speaker -- they can watch Dr. King deliver it on demand -- and eight in 10 knew what 'To Kill a Mockingbird' is about.”

“This is, of course, the kind of knowledge we should be encouraging. The Internet has turned teenagers into honest documentarians of their own lives -- reporters embedded in their homes, their schools, their own heads.”

She adds we need to stop fearing that the Internet is the downfall of literacy skills. To the contray, she contends kids' online lives are making the next generation more literate than any other, noting:

“Teenagers today read and write for fun; it's part of their social lives. We need to start celebrating this unprecedented surge, incorporating it as an educational tool instead of meeting it with punishing pop quizzes and suspicion.”

As educators, we need to ponder the ideas that Goldwasser covers in her piece. Pay particular attention to her admonitions to her adult audience to accept the digital world's potential to have extraordinary positive effects on promoting literacy.

Check out her full article, and please leave a comment.

Imaga contribution


Melissa J said...

This was quite an interesting article. I am not a huge person for the internet so I was shocked to hear some of the findings. To think that students spend 16.7 hours a week blogging or IMing blows my mind. Where do they get the time between homework, family time, sports, dinner to do this?? I know when I was in school I just had about enough time to get my homework done, dinner and the gym so I could get to bed at a descent hour. I do agree that the internet links students to an enormous amoutn of resources. This is something I do support because it can provide them with the resources to expand their knowledge above and beyond what was learned in the classroom. It is concerning that students are getting less exposure to the literature components. As much as some of the literature is quite a passtime, it is still part of the history and what has created our langauage and society as of today. I don't think we can entirely blame the internet for this rather the lack of time in the curriculum in which teachers need to cover a lot of material as well as state exams.
Overall, I think the interent is a useful educational and recreational tool but its use just needs to be watched to prevent harmful things from happening to our children

tina miller said...

Currently living with three teen-agers, I can unfortunately believe the amount of time they sepnd on the computer. It has been a real batle with me to share time with them especially since I need it for school work and most of there time is spent on myspace and facebook. The teens I see are not really engaged in using the internet for educational purposes. They do so because they have to not because they want to. I don't feel that they greatly appreciate the informational resources that are available to them and use them only beause they have to as part of their classwork. I think it is very importtant to teach them how to use the internet responsibly and for more than just chatting with friends, downloading books and pictures. I am not as convinced as the author that they are getting as much of the educational value that she seems to be suggesting is occurring.

barbara jarosz said...

I agree with you Tina, I don't think that teenagers are truly getting the educational value from the Internet that this article argues. Teenagers today are well versed at Im-ing, posting to Facebook, and downloading music- but much of what they do on the Internet is for entertainment purposes.

Yes, these teens are writing about themselves when they post a profile on Facebook- but does this type of writing weigh equally with being asked to write a persuasive essay on a contraversial topic? The writing and reading that teens are doing on the Internet does match the type of writing and reading that these students are asked to do in school. Internet writing oftentimes lacks substance. Kids are chatting with each other for the sole purpose of socializing, and much of their writing uses shorthand, abbreviated words that have no meaning in the academic setting. How can we compare the two? I guess that I am still skeptical that the majority of teens are truly using the Internet to expand their minds and learn, rather than just a convenient mode of communication to keep in touch with their friends.

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