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Taking Swipes at the Smartphone Generation
Townhall.com ^ | March 29, 2013 | Suzanne Fields

Posted on 03/29/2013 12:38:56 PM PDT by Kaslin

The digital age continues to confuse and confound a generation of adults who have learned to participate in it, but lack the ability for what Ethel Merman as Annie Oakley called "doin' what comes naturally."

We still think a microwave is for heating coffee and thawing frozen food, never the name of a computer game. We weren't born to researching on Wikipedia or Googling for facts. Our fingers can text, but often strike two letters on the Android, making for some strange communications. We despair of catching up with the tools at hand and wonder what it all means for the future of our children.

With the wisdom that comes with age we question whether fast learning on a computer equals the understanding that comes from slower study in books. (We're suspicious of books on Kindle, too.) When teachers try to make learning fun with computers, will children grow up to take on the hard tasks for thinking things out? Inquiring minds want to know.

The latest fad for teaching is the video game Minecraft, a Lego-like building game for learning how to build structures. It made a splash as a way to teach students how to "dig deep." One private school teacher for 12-year olds uses it to design buildings for an ancient Roman apartment house.

"It's an accurate way to build things without just having to write down all this stuff," one child tells The Washington Post. "You still have to make floor plans, but it's more interactive and more fun."

But this approach enables a computer to drive the course. Is this how we want to take the kids in a virtual tour of ancient Rome? Virgil would not approve, and you don't have to be (an) ancient to wonder whether these children would travel deep into their imaginations or understand why Dido was disconsolate when Aeneas left her behind.

Besides, who said learning has to be fun? Learning is hard. Dancing letters and images can excite Sesame Street toddlers, but once they learn to read, the letters stop jumping and they have to shape up to learn the hard stuff, the meaning of metaphors, how to write a simile.

Joel Levin, co-founder of a company that helps schools set up Minecraft, hopes to work Minecraft into history, math, reading and art classes. An eighth-grader who plays the Minecraft game "Survival," which includes zombies and creepers, talks about how "cool" it is. "You can shape your own world." Cool in the classroom is exactly what we're suspicious of.

Hanna Rosin, writing in Atlantic magazine about "touch-screen learning," says two-thirds of children ages 4 to 7 have used an iPhone: "Touch technology follows the same technology as shaking a rattle or knocking down a pile of blocks." The child swipes, something happens. Norman Rockwell painted innocent children in an earlier age reading a book; today, he might paint their fingers swiping across a screen.

We don't yet know whether computers will change the way young people learn to think conceptually, but we already know how traditional subject matter is measured against the tools of technology. An acrimonious debate boils at the college level between pedagogues who think it's better to study for the B.A. and getting at least a smattering of what we used to call the Great Books, and young people who want to go from high school straight to programs offered at many community colleges to teach the technical skills in high demand. Many include working with computers. These skills promise better pay than a B.A. degree in the humanities can.

This is not an academic argument. There's a serious debate over whether Pell Grant programs, which fund part of the tuition for the pursuit of a four-year liberal arts degree, should be extended to cover job-oriented skills.

"If you want to take four years of Shakespeare, that's up to you," Anthony P. Carnevale, director of Georgetown University's Center on Education and the Workforce, tells The New York Times. "Is that what the public sector should support? The bottom line is, given the budget situation, we ought to be more concerned about preparing people for the job market."

Once upon a time, we had respect for the great books that expanded mind and imagination, the ability to think with insight. Now the emphasis is on tools, process not content.

The invention of the printing press put an end to illuminated manuscripts, but it spectacularly expanded access to information and literature. So it may be for the touch-screen generation, as words on paper diminish and disappear. We can always hope, but we're a long way from knowing what the impact of the digital technology will be on the brain. It may change the way we do what comes naturally.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Editorial
KEYWORDS: books; educationandschools; minecraft; science; smartphones
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1 posted on 03/29/2013 12:38:56 PM PDT by Kaslin
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To: Kaslin

watchit who youre dissing there kid

i just joined that smartphone crowd last week

Nana got cool dude

:)


2 posted on 03/29/2013 12:40:30 PM PDT by Tennessee Nana
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To: Tennessee Nana
Nana got cool dude

What's 'is name? ("Let's eat grandpa"?) Nana needs to get a comma.

3 posted on 03/29/2013 12:42:29 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong! Ice cream is delicious!)
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To: Revolting cat!

LOL!


4 posted on 03/29/2013 12:46:20 PM PDT by dagogo redux (A whiff of primitive spirits in the air, harbingers of an impending descent into the feral.)
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To: Kaslin

I have an irresponsible nephew who bogied his 10 year long marriage because he wasn’t smart enough or mature enough to avoid the problems associated with using a ‘smart’ phone. I could slap him!


5 posted on 03/29/2013 12:51:21 PM PDT by SMARTY ("The man who has no inner-life is a slave to his surroundings. "Henri Frederic Amiel)
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To: Kaslin

Just cause you got a smartphone it don’t make you smart.


6 posted on 03/29/2013 12:53:50 PM PDT by Lurkina.n.Learnin (Obama is the Chicken Little of politics)
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To: Kaslin

Many older people don’t want to take the time to learn any new way of doing things, and younger people don’t care how it used to be done.

Quite frankly digging through encyclopedias was inefficient and boring. I always have to take the perspective that I hold the power of the whole world in my hand. If I have a question I just have to look it up.

Remember its not a POS smart phone, it is a marvel of modern technology that affords you such opportunities to learn new things while waiting for your food or other meaningless moments in life.


7 posted on 03/29/2013 12:56:31 PM PDT by pennyfarmer (Your socialist beat our liberal AGAIN.)
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To: Tennessee Nana

Ha!

Beatcha by a couple of months.


8 posted on 03/29/2013 1:00:17 PM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Kaslin

Online teaching has already begun to eat away at the government school/teacher’s union/Marxist axis. Which is something that we FReepers have been praying for since forever.

http://www.shreveporttimes.com/proart/20130310/news0401/130309003/virtual-school-enrollment-rising?pagerestricted=1

Virtual school enrollment rising
Written by Mary Nash-Wood
Mar. 10

It’s 8:30 a.m. Monday, and SarahJayne Driskill is getting ready for school.

Admitting she isn’t much of a morning person, she puts on a pair of skinny jeans and a navy blouse and comes downstairs in her Southern Trace home at 9 a.m.

The senior walks to her “locker” — a corner in the family living room that houses her school books and laptop. As pens and a notebook fall from her locker, she laughs and quickly picks up the pieces.

“Even with her at home for school, some things are the same and just like so many teenagers. Her locker isn’t always the cleanest,” her mother, Rachel Driskill, says.

The 18-year-old Shreveport senior is one of 268 students in northwest Louisiana enrolled in one of the state’s two free fully virtual public schools — Louisiana Connections Academy and Louisiana Virtual Charter Academy.

As parents across the region look to virtual schools to meet their children’s needs, some say there is not enough data yet available to see if these programs are adequately teaching students. Over the past two years, students in Caddo, DeSoto, Bossier and Webster parishes who are choosing to leave traditional schools and selecting virtual programs far more than those moving to private or charter schools, and the number of students looking to virtual schools only look to grow.

Louisiana Connections Principal Caroline Wood said parents in northwest Louisiana consistently are applying to leave traditional public school systems and make the move to online charters.


9 posted on 03/29/2013 1:00:20 PM PDT by abb
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To: Tennessee Nana
watchit who youre dissing there kid i just joined that smartphone crowd last week Nana got cool dude

The older I get, the more I value and put emphasis on genuine human interaction over technology-driven interaction.

10 posted on 03/29/2013 1:01:00 PM PDT by Alex Murphy ("If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all" - Isaiah 7:9)
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To: Revolting cat!

ELSIE sometime IN a coma!


11 posted on 03/29/2013 1:01:03 PM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Kaslin

one of the nice things with e-readers is the instant ability to look up words and highlight w/o physical destruction. OTHO i am still more comfortable with a real book in my hand.
you can’t speed learn and retain. speed learning is cramming, in and out. real learning takes time and experience whetaher one learns better self-taught, in a classroon, via video or hands-on.


12 posted on 03/29/2013 1:01:59 PM PDT by bravo whiskey (We should not fear our government. Our government shoud fear us.)
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To: Kaslin
The digital age continues to confuse and confound a generation of adults.....

Not me.

 photo FWmynewc.jpg

13 posted on 03/29/2013 1:03:14 PM PDT by umgud (2A can't survive dem majorities)
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To: abb

How widespread is this program?


14 posted on 03/29/2013 1:03:28 PM PDT by who knows what evil? (G-d saved more animals than people on the ark...www.siameserescue.org.)
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To: Lurkina.n.Learnin
Just cause you got a smartphone it don’t make you smart.

We are smart. We look for things...



15 posted on 03/29/2013 1:15:54 PM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: pennyfarmer
Many older people don’t want to take the time to learn any new way of doing things, and younger people don’t care how it used to be done.

They will when the grid goes down...

16 posted on 03/29/2013 1:17:03 PM PDT by Elsie (Heck is where people, who don't believe in Gosh, think they are not going...)
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To: Kaslin
Smartphones are phenomenal tools being used in trivial fashion.

These devices clearly demonstrate that; “You can lead a fool to knowledge, but you can't make him think!”

17 posted on 03/29/2013 1:25:23 PM PDT by DakotaGator (Weep for the lost Republic! And keep your powder dry!!)
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To: who knows what evil?

It is just getting started, but the interest is very high. A couple of people in my morning coffee group work in this field and they say it is growing exponentially. Costs per pupil are about 1/2 that of conventional schools.

I see it as a huge threat to government schools and the teacher union.

http://www.connectionsacademy.com/louisiana-school/home.aspx


18 posted on 03/29/2013 1:26:10 PM PDT by abb
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To: who knows what evil?

One observation here - “online learning” is not new. I’m 63, and a 1968 graduate of a North Louisiana high school. One of my classmates never set foot in a classroom all through high school.

He couldn’t, as he was paraplegic. These were the days before handicap accessible buildings.

The phone company set up a speakerphone where he could “attend classes” at home.

He is a college graduate, and has worked as an accountant and tax preparer ever since. I see him around town in a vehicle with hand controls and a wheelchair lift, driving himself around.

If you want to learn, you can learn. There is literally more information available at this point in time, than ever before in human history.


19 posted on 03/29/2013 1:33:50 PM PDT by abb
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To: abb
I see it as a huge threat to government schools and the teacher union.

Good.

20 posted on 03/29/2013 1:46:37 PM PDT by who knows what evil? (G-d saved more animals than people on the ark...www.siameserescue.org.)
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