Category Archives: Millenials

More Mockery

USA Today’s Dumbest Article (Today, that is)

It appears that desperation breeds sensationalism. USA Today attempts to stave off irrelevancy by publishing nonsense. Modified article below. As usual, footnotes and italics are mine. Some minor deletions of original article may also occur.
Original Article By Erin Thompson, USA TODAY
Teens and young adults are more likely in their free time to check their Facebook page than read a book.

And they are dumber for it.

“If you examine history closely, you’ll see that the only free time option since the dawn of time has been reading books. Now we have one other option, that monstrosity, that corrupter of youth, that Facebook. I think you can see why we’re doomed.”

That is Mark Bauerlein’s contention in The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future (Or, How to Sound Arrogant and Make Money Off Bitter Old People), recently released in paperback (Tarcher/Penguin, 236 pp.)

Bauerlein, an English professor at Emory University in Atlanta, says Generation Y, ages 16-29, has been shaped by exposure to computer technology since elementary school. Those individuals who are 30 were lucky enough to escape this tragedy entirely and have normal levels of intelligence.

The cost, he says, outweighs the convenience. Kids are writing more than ever online or in text messages, but it’s not the kind of narrative skill needed as adults, he says. “Those forms groove bad habits, so when it comes time to produce an academic paper … or when they enter the workplace, their capacity breaks down.”

“Ask any adult,” Bauerlein states. “They write long research papers on novels virtually everyday. Poetry also abounds. Footnotes and citations are key elements in every adult’s life. In the real world, no one wastes time with personal communications and relationship building.”

Social networking sites can give young users “the sense of them being the center of the universe,” Bauerlein says.

“It’s kind of like an English teacher being interviewed for insulting the intelligence of an entire generation and assuming he knows enough about cognitive development, society, learning, public education etc. to be able to diagnose the exact cause of their “issues,” Bauerline finished. “Our society can’t handle that kind of ego and arrogance.”

That gives them a distorted understanding of how the world works, he says. “If you go into a room of strangers, you don’t know how to relate. You can’t replicate your IM habits,” he says. “It closes people off from a wider engagement with the world1.”

“It’s not like there are going to be other strangers in the room that have been raised like they have. If only they could have avoided all technology so they’d fit in really well with the rest of society. You know, like the Amish do.”

Parents must do more to pull their teens away from technology, including being role models in developing intellectual pursuits: “Talk with your kids. Kids can’t do this by themselves.”

“If only kids could get off of the Facebook and watch Friends reruns with their parents. Remember if lots of people are doing it at the same time it’s communal, even if you can’t actually see or communicate with one another.”

But Gary Small, director of the Center of Aging at the University of California-Los Angeles and co-author of iBrain: Surviving the Technological Alteration of the Modern Mind, says teens are just as smart as they ever were. That is why he’s mentioned very briefly at the bottom of this article.

They’re just smart in different ways, Small says. “In some ways (technology) is hindering, in some ways it’s advancing” education, he says. “It teaches our brain a different way of processing things.”

Shortly after this statement Small was added to our list of people who say reasonable things (and should never be interviewed again).

1 The Internet was once rumored to help breakdown borders. This was proven to be untrue in Bauerline’s earlier work “Face to Face: The Only Way Communication Happens.”

Student Brainwashing Proves Effective

Here’s a slightly modified/mockified version of a recent Chronicle article. Some deletions. My additions in italics.

College students were given the chance to ditch a traditional classroom for an online virtual world. Fourteen out of fifteen declined. The fifteenth student was required to return to K12 education to have the rest of the curiosity and spirit beaten out of her.

“We’ve taken great steps to make sure all that spirit is gone by 12th grade.” Lamented Ms. Demeanor, a local principal. “I don’t know what could have happened. We failed her. There’s nothing else I can say.”

When Catheryn Cheal, assistant vice president of e-learning and instructional support at Oakland University, was designing a course on learning in virtual worlds, she thought the best way to research the topic would be to immerse her class into one such world. Her thought was that the “motivating factors identified in games, such as challenge, curiosity, control, and identity presentation” would help the course along.

“Of course she wasn’t thinking,” writes Ms. Demeanor. “How could they adapt to such an environment when we’ve spent so many painstaking years doing just the opposite? Where were the tests? Where were the lectures? She could have killed them.”

While the interactive style could be fun, Ms. Cheal’s students worried they were having too much fun. Students demanded that Ms. Cheal bring them to a classroom to read PowerPoints to them as they hastily scribbled notes or stared vacantly ahead. Other students insisted they turn in long complicated papers on virtual worlds based entirely on second-hand research.

In her recently published study, “Student Perceptions of a Course Taught in Second Life,” Ms. Cheal wrote that the 15 undergraduate students enrolled in the course raised concerns that too much “play” in the assignments inhibited learning. The students also cited problems with the program’s slow speed and with challenges acclimating to virtual life.

“I haven’t had fun in school since kindergarten,” claimed one student. “I don’t want to break that string. Besides learning new things is hard. It’s not like I use technology everyday.”

Although Ms. Cheal admits that the sample size was small, she warns others to be careful when designing new courses that may use a similar approach.

“While there is potential for interactive and engaging education in virtual worlds, those possibilities may be negated if students feel lost with a difficult interface and hardware problems or if students characterize the virtual world as a venue for play incompatible with learning,” she wrote1.

“Exactly,” blasted Ms. Demeanor. “Don’t take risks or push these students. They can’t handle it. Stay with what you, and they, know. Play it safe. The system has proven it works. Don’t mess with the system!”

Marc Beja
Actual author is above with a link to the real article.

And the funny thing is, I don’t even like SecondLife.

1 Ms. Cheal was unavailable for interview but was able to respond to written questions from a re-education camp where she is said to be “recovering nicely.”

Killing People with Bronze Axes

Bronze Age Orientation

The “lessons” in the video are funny because they’re true (I think I’m quoting Homer Simpson)-

  • don’t be a pompous ass (period, but especially not when advocating for a major change)

    positive version – Be humble. You don’t know everything and your way is not the only way.

  • don’t make change a threat or tie it to a threat (the tribes with the bronze axes will kill you, the kids won’t learn etc.)

    positive version – Tie the change to positive outcomes for those involved. Focus on how it will improve their life. Why is it worthwhile for them?

  • don’t put down the old ways (and then they’ll throw away your stone axes because they’re rubbish)

    positive version – Honor the past*. Even if you hate the old way, insulting it will tend to increase resistance to change. In education, the focus should be on adding tools and exploring options rather than in taking them away. The bronze shoes and window are also pretty similar to the “must use twitter based podcasts wikis” in class mentality too often seen in EduBlogosphere Land. Tools are tools and each has its place.

This video shows the hypothetical meeting held to discuss changing from stone age technology to bronze age technology.

You’ve got the reluctance you normally see (funny but done in lots of things) but you also see something of the pomposity and threat possible in the “change agent.” It’s easy to end up seeming/being** pompous when you believe your way is clearly superior and you want others to adopt it.

via Merlin Mann on Mac Break Weekly although not suggested as being in any way educational





*honoring the past does not apply to crazy things like the Nazi party, cult membership etc.


**There is a difference – seeming pompous means you’ll still listen to others despite coming across as a know-it-all, being pompous means you won’t listen because in your heart you do believe you know it all. There’s a fine line between advocating for something and becoming a zealot.

Minx Graphic Novels: Girl-Positive Comics


Minx Comics, published by DC Comics, focuses on girl-positive themes and images.  As a life-long comic book collector (boxes, bags, and the whole nine yards), it has worried me the way women in comics have become hyper-sexualized.  It’s difficult to find a female character who doesn’t seem to be popping out of her costume.  Minx offers a wonderful alternative to the modern super-heroine.  Pass this one onto your librarians!

via BoingBoing