One of the things that I believe in as a learner is that in order to be well-rounded, you HAVE to expose yourself to ideas that run contrary to your own.
That’s why I picked up Mark Bauerlein’s The Dumbest Generation — a book that completely skewers both today’s teachers AND students — a few years back. I figured I had to know what critics think before I can legitimately decide whether or not the positions I believe in are well polished and responsible.
The quote from Bauerlein’s book that stays with me even today is this one:
“Ever optimistic, techno-cheerleaders view the digital learning experience
through their own motivated eyes, and they picture something that doesn’t yet
exist: classrooms illuminating the wide, wide world, teachers becoming
twenty-first-century techno-facilitators, and students at screens inspired to
ponder, imagine, reflect, analyze, memorize, recite and create.”
(Bauerlein, 2008, Kindle location 1900-1906)
That’s a pretty scathing accusation, isn’t it? To suggest that teachers are literally blinded to the pathetic learning results produced by digital kids in today’s learning spaces would rile up like 90 percent of the teachers swimming in my Twitterstream.
But is there a measure of truth in Bauerlein’s observations? Is “ever-optimistic techno-cheerleading” more common than we’re willing to admit?
Can you HONESTLY say that digital tools have made significant and meaningful changes to the kinds of learning experiences that happen in the majority of classrooms in your school — or are teachers using digital tools to do little more than put a little lipstick on their instructional pig?
Those are questions worth wrestling with even if the answers ARE uncomfortable.
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