Monday, December 20, 2010

Reflection Post

I thought the most accurate of all the information from the entire book came at the end. Bauerlein finally gave some insite to what youth should be learning about and studying rather than technology. "The Dumbest Generation will cease being dumb only when it regards adolescence as an inferior realm of petty strivings and adulthood as a realm of civic, historical, and cultural awareness that puts them in touch with the perennial ideas and struggles." (p. 236) So we finally know what the author suggests this generation do to cease being 'dumb' but is that actually probable.
As a Government teacher of Seniors who are finally realizing they need good grades to get into college, they don't even have the grasp of civics and cultural awareness as Bauerlein puts it. I have colleagues that don't even grasp these ideas, in fact if it were not my job I might not follow every aspect of politics and current events either. This is just not the norm in today's society. People don't stand around the water cooler and talk about any good books they've read lately, instead they talk about what they made for supper or who was five minutes late for work today.
Overall I actually found this book to be interesting. It was an eye opener to the fact that the youth are of course the generation of our future and if they are not informed of history and cultural foundations those foundations America was founded on will be lost. For the sake of our founding fathers, the writers of our Constitution, the military men and women who fight for our freedom; we need to stay informed of how we came to be the 'land of the free and the home of the brave'.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Final Reflection

In The Dumbest Generation, Mark Bauerlein presents the argument that today’s youth while at ease with technology, lacks basic civic, historic, artistic, literary and philosophical intelligences. They read less for leisure than any other previous generation. They also don’t vote, nor do they care about political issues on any thing more than a superficial or shallow level. They are, according to Bauerlein, “incomplete people and negligent citizens” (Bauerlein 233, 2008). Nor does he make this statement without a mountain of empirical data to back it up. Indeed, Bauerlein cites so many studies and data results throughout his book that I oftentimes found my head swimming. He also reiterates many times throughout the book that he offers his argument and statistics as a counterpoint to the “techno-zeal” sweeping the U.S. educational system and mainstream society.

While I found many of Bauerlein’s arguments and studies to be intriguing, especially as they related to leisure reading habits, I took much of what he had to say with a grain of salt. As evidenced throughout his text, Bauerlein is a debater. In The Dumbest Generation, he is giving us his well-researched, albeit biased argument against youth’s use of technology. We as readers can either choose to join his team, or we can do our own pro-technology research and formulate a rebuttal. Personally, I plan to use Bauerlein’s research and studies as a counterpoint for debate with my colleagues. One aspect of Bauerlein’s book that frustrated me immensely while reading it was his lack of solutions on how to reach this digital millennial. So in addition to using his research as a point of discussion, I also plan to use it as a way to start brainstorming ways to engage our students in the educational process.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Reflection Post

The assignment for this post is to reflect on how I believe Mark Bauerlein's The Dumbest Generation can be practically applied to my classroom or professional setting. It makes me wonder why the creators of this class offered this book as a reading option. The book essentially argues against everything we are being encouraged to do in our classrooms. Even if I don't agree with everything Bauerlein presents and even if I found most of the book to be riddled with statistics and no discussion of how to make a change, the book did make me think. The book also validated personal beliefs that I already held that included resisting the over inclusion of technology in the classroom and the over indulgence of my students' whims and interests. However, these are core ideas being presented in this course. Each week I felt as if the required reading for the course directly contradicted my reading from Bauerlein. Obviously, this is not a bad thing. As I stated in my final discussion positing over chapter six, and as Bauerlein himself would argue, it is important to be well informed about both sides of an argument. Maybe I have answered my own query; the creators of the class wanted to present the counter argument against the main points of the class. If it has done nothing else, it has in fact made me think and reflect.

In relation to age, I am a member of Bauerlein's "dumbest generation." I am under 30 years of age and he frequently quotes statistics from my years in high school and college. Part of me became defensive and indignant towards his ideas; part of me agreed with him based on what I see in my classroom. However, in some ways I see myself, and many of my peers, disproving his argument. Then again, I enjoy reading for pleasure and I frequently have intellectual discussions with my close friends and significant other, which would eliminate me from his main focus, but I also have friends and acquaintances that fit every definition of Bauerlein's "dumbest generation."

Since I am caught between believing everything Bauerlein says and wanting to stand my ground and defy his observations, I plan to use this in the classroom as a means of defining and understanding the students before me. If nothing else, the statistics and observations Bauerlein has made about today's youth are accurate. It is now up to us as educators to decide if where we are heading is a good thing (which Bauerlein says it is not) or whether we need to take a stance and demand a change and a return to traditional education (which Bauerlein says we should). Personally, I tend to lean towards the latter, at least in terms of demanding our students still be taught key basic concepts, which they can later apply to their areas of special interest; however, I also realize education will never be what it once was. Just like the student and the technology, it must evolve.

Friday, December 3, 2010


Bauerlein plays the devil's advocate throughout his book, The Dumbest Generation, to forwarn the nation's "mentors" that it's time to get serious about determining high priority principles. He uses the advent of the digital era as the backdrop for the demise of individual pride and responsibility. He presents statistics and studies by the chapter which would appear to support some very credible and reasonable concerns, and his arguments are well thought out and logically presented.

What is not so evident, is what naturally occurs once our young "leave the nest," so to speak. If we take a minute to review our own lives, it is certain that there was a moment for each one of us, when our attention was turned away from our own desires and impacted directly by an outsider. I might associate this with the finding of a lifemate or birthing of a child, for another, it could be the meeting of a significant friend or a lifechanging event. Typically that kind of life altering maturation doesn't happen in our teens or maybe, even in our twenties. There is no specific season in which we ripen as individuals.

I followed Bauerlein faithfully through his book, silently nodding my head as I visualized the classrooms at work, but as chapter six began - with the reference to Rip Van Winkle and his focus on the responsibility of American youth towards their civic duties, he began (or I did) to draw a line in the sand between us. If our children were politically active and hosted protests and intellectual all-nighters under giant trees, would that prove their social worthiness and safeguard our nation's future? I'm not so sure. A nation may rise or fall based more upon the greed of man as an animal, than on the literacy level of it's people.

If we go back to his preface, Bauerlein himself tells us he never expected people to simply accept his point of view, he wrote the book to aggitate the "mentors" and get them talking and thinking. "The realistic goal was to open the blunt the counter the sanguine portraits of informed and agile teens...' (p. vii)  I think he has accomplished that goal.

Growing in Technology