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.