I think it on a daily basis, something along the lines of I sure wish those kids would just leave their phones in their pockets for just a few minutes. I’ll even admit downright irritation when trying to give the directions for an assignment and a student is slyly texting under the desk. There is a time and place for technology. I wanted to write, “There is a definite time and place for technology,” but then I changed the sentence. Here is the reason, and much of it has to do with a recent article I read about the speech Adora Svitek gave at the recent Mashable Connect.
Before reading any further, if you haven’t heard of Adora Svitek, watch her TED Talk. This girl is amazing. From an early age, she has been educating adults on what the younger generations have to offer the world.
At the Mashable Connect, Adora talked about how youth are much more engaged in the world around them because they are no longer spectators of what is happening in the world but are participants in a global community. To see more of what she has to say, go to Mashable, read the article and watch the video. She makes sense.
I really like this idea of teenagers being participants rather than mere observers. In the past thirty years (and I am sure we could find the numbers to show this) people spent a great deal of time sitting around watching television. They were observers of a creative world where anything could and does happen. Watching television is purely an observation activity, so much so that the brain function is greatly lowered during the activity.
This is not so much the case in the tech charged world of today. I would be wrong to say that teenagers don’t still spend a lot of time in front of the 56 inch flat screen at night. I know they do, but unlike their parents, that is not all teens are doing while watching TV. While watching television, they may be engaged in a chat room discussion about the show or updating their Facebook status. Assuredly, most students will be also texting a number of different people during this time on various topics. This is the point that Svitek makes in her talk. To those who do not know how to text, or update a Facebook, or talk in a chat room, these activities look quite distracting and unrelated, but in all reality, they might be quite closely related. Svitek is trying to show that teens are not distracted, but engaged in the world around them.
This might very well be the case for a classroom where students are allowed to text, tweet, and update during class.
As a teacher, this is still a little hard to think about and accept. However, I think it merits some serious thought. Just think of the possibilities for a teacher who can learn to harness the power of all these different modes of communication and thinking. In my mind, there is more and more validity in using the tools students use in their everyday life.
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