Tuesday, December 28, 2010


I enjoy reading and have read many books throughout school and just for fun. However, The Dumbest Generation, by Mark Bauerlein, was so far removed from fun that it made my skin crawl. Even though it was for a class, I have never disliked a book more. Mark Bauerlein is off his rocker and should be locked up for the serious stereotyping and downgrading he wrote inside the cover of this book. He threw all people, under 30, into one big bowl and said they should not be trusted because of this or that. On the cover, the words were there, “OR, DON’T TRUST ANYONE UNDER 30.” In other words, we are all the same. I don’t think everyone over 30 is the same or shouldn’t be trusted. Even though, there are the select few I wouldn’t trust as far as I could throw them. But, I don’t lump everyone inside the same category like Mr. Mark.
I am part of the “dumbest generation,” so maybe, I take this a bit more personally than say a thirty-two year old reading the book. I don’t know how the author decided to draw the line in the sand at age 30. There are people of every age that take technology a bit too far and forget about the books. Have you seen “The 40 Year Old Virgin?” Case in point, this movie is set in a Best Buy look alike store and the guy is surrounded by screens all day long, every day. I don’t believe he really picks a book, say Shakespeare, the whole movie. This guy is forty years old. It doesn’t matter how old a person is, they are capable of losing themselves in technology and forgetting about real life, books, or music.
Overall, I was severely disappointed in how the author went about discussing the matter. Yes, technology can become addictive and lead to poor writing, reading, and test scores. However, there are those 30 year old and younger members of society, who successfully contribute. There are those who read classics and correctly write. There are those who do well on tests.
I took from this book a lot of negatives. However, there is one positive. I realize that, as a teacher and parent, I have an enormous responsibility to the students in my classroom and my son. The children need to know how technology can take them places they may never see. It can provide many opportunities. It can provide new and innovate ways to learn and communicate. But, they also need to know about all the great books available to them. They need to know life doesn’t revolve around a computer, or any kind, of screen. They need to be able to communicate in person. As adults, teachers, and parents, we need to create a healthy balance between screens and real life. Our students and children are not going to create the balance themselves. It is like when children are learning to tie their shoes, they need someone to show them the correct path.

Sunday, December 26, 2010


I found this book to be a very difficult read. It was tough to hear someone with such a negative view of younger people go on and on about how dumb they are. I can understand where the stereotype comes from, but it doesn not apply to everyone. The use of technology has and will continue to enhance our lives. What I have taken from this book is simply that we must all do our jobs in helping others to understand how to use technology productively. I hope that there are others out there who found this book more interesting than I did. It was a great day when I finished this book!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Reflection on The Dumbest Generation

The book I chose to read for our literature study was The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein. To be candid, I did not enjoy reading this book at all. I feel the author has an extremely negative outlook on young people that are 30 and under. I believe he looks for negativity, and therefore finds it, in a "glass is half empty" point of view. However, like I heard Oprah say once, if an author can get you to feel this much emotion about their writing, even if it's negative, they must have done something right.

I am a parent of someone under the age of 20 and I believe that technology and the new digital culture is at an exciting place and that it is these young people that will take us into an exciting future! Like anything in life, there are exceptions to the rule and those that take shortcuts, but let's not forget those responsible young people that want to make the world a better place. Not everyone is being "dumbed down" and spending all of their time in social networking. The author stereotypes young people so much it is infuriating! The world has changed so much and we have got to keep up with it!

If there is one thing this book has done for me, it is to make me even more aware of the huge responsibility that we as parents and teachers have in teaching our kids and students how to be responsible technology users and responsible people and citizens. Parents and teachers must work together on this and we must also teach the concepts of the need for the balance between technology and the "old way" of doing things. I believe kids must be exposed to and taught at a very young age and have opportunities for trial and error when it comes to technology. I am amazed at what my high school aged daughter knows about technology and some of her school assignments she has to complete using the computer. However, I also want her to be able to function by reading a book and doing her own research, should the Internet go down! Thus the need for balance and teaching kids to be responsible people with the ability of using technology, or not, to better our world.

In summary, I'm sure I will think about this book as I continue to teach and seek new, interesting, and exciting ways to help my first and second grade students learn how to be responsible technology users, and to try and rid the stereotype of being "The Dumbest Generation" for their generation and beyond.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Chapter 2: The New Bibliophobes

            In 2004, while Mark Bauerlein worked for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), he did an interview with NPR that centered on a discussion about the significant drop in leisure reading, especially among 18-24 year olds. The radio interview was one amid many different types of media interviews and reports that followed a NEA report entitled “Reading at Risk: A Survey of Literary Reading in America”.  Bauerlein reports that during the radio interview, he was “startled” by the reaction of the radio-listening audience. He summarizes after recalling the conversation he had with one high school student “she didn’t like to read, period, and she wanted to tell us that, throwing our assumption that every young person should read books right back in our faces”.  He states that this “new attitude” of flaunting “a-literacy (knowing how to read, but choosing not to)” and “anti-intellectualism” is peculiar to the millennial generation.  Bauerlein gives another example – this time a college panelist relates how his “dad is still into the whole book thing” and that he goes to the library only to retrieve course information, but never to check out leisure books. He has not realized that the Internet kind of took the place of that”.
            Among my students, I do see youth with both of these aforementioned attitudes. However, I also know youth that love to read. I have several students that choose to read their leisure books (checked out from the school library) during free time in class. Still, we don’t have computers in our classroom. Given a choice – would they choose the Internet over their book?
This also makes me think of the different attitudes of a niece and two nephews (in the same family). The oldest who is almost 18 years old loved to read Harry Potter books and also other books in that genre a couple of years ago. Now he spends less time reading, and more time on his smart phone texting. He reads well, but his writing is terrible and he wants to be an engineer! I wonder- does his texting (shorthand) have something to do with his writing skills? His brother is 16 and has always hated to read. He would rather spend all his time playing video games - mostly in the subject of shooting (hunting animals). Their sister, who is 14, loves to read books, especially in the popular romantic-vampire series. So here is an example of 'same family- different interests'.
Bauerlein goes on to describe numerous observations that suggest that events such as the release of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, are more about the social event than a reading trend. In other words, the mind-boggling sales of such books are a result of “special social meaning” or “youth identity”, rather than purely in the interest of reading because it was something they were interested in themselves.
Pages forty-five to sixty-three are mostly filled with information on surveys, statistics and reports with a somewhat common dismal conclusion – a staggering number of “students are not learning the basic skills needed to succeed in college or work while they are in high school”. They end up needing “remedial coursework and advising before they can even start college-level instruction” and this ends up costing tax payers a bundle. Then on page sixty-five the discussion switches to a different view – “a newfangled cognition and knowledge.” This opinion states that although they don’t read books “well, they read other things” and while they “don’t know any history” from books – “they know other kinds”. Some proponents of this generation point to a “quicker attention span”, and better ability to “multi-task”. Bauerlein however, is quick to point out though that many of these proponents are actually the “20-something” “practitioners themselves”. He gives an example where a young blogger says:
“What smart person would devote hours to learning words that can be accessed at the click of a button? Spell check can spell. Shift+F7 produces synonyms. What is wrong with relying on something that is perfectly reliable? (Andrukonis)”.
            My thought here is: Yes, but what about the countless times I have had students who fail to even remember to use Spell Check?
            The chapter concludes that after all the arguments about learning in the digital age, there is still the question: While students have so many more conveniences and quick information, available to them, why then are their reading scores, and science, culture and civic knowledge still suffering?

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Book Cover Image

I chose this image because it reminds me of a quote in chapter 2 of the book “My dad is still into the whole book thing. He has not realized that the Internet kind of took the place of that”.  I liked this photo of a dad reading a favorite book to his teenage children because he is carrying on a family Christmas tradition. I think this is probably rare these days!

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Chapter 5 - The Betrayal of the Mentors

Chapter 5 starts off telling about how an activist nonprofit organization, Partners For Livable Communities, sponsored a study of community arts programs for troubled and underserved youth. The main purpose of their efforts was to lower the rate of high school drop outs, by giving them a focus and a purpose. For many of these students, the long-term effect turned these troubled youths, into self-sufficient, confident, and creative citizens. Here, the author believes "that young people during those years most critical for moral development miss repeated and consistent immersion in activities framed within and around pro-social and pro-civic values orientations." "Left to themselves, teens have no forward direction. Their goals contrast and blur into meeting friends and "doing stuff" and the prospect of becoming a positive contributor to their neighborhood never even crosses their minds." I personally think this is quite a negative attitude and view of today's youth. I would like to think of someone with more knowledge and opportunities to meet with adults and leaders, that it would broaden their thinking and create opportunities that haven't even been thought of yet. I believe this author looks at "the cup is half empty" philosophy and tends to lump all young people in this category. Like everything, there are exceptions to the rule, and I would like to think of more young people doing good for their communities, than bad. In this particular study, it proved to turn kids around into working, responsible adults by having important people in their lives, such as parents, teachers, and mentors. These kids could turn out either negatively or positively, but this study showed that The Arts Program helped to turn them into responsible young adults.

According to Reich, there is a new generation coming, called "The Twixters". These are people age 22-30 years old, have a college degree or at least college coursework, come from middle-class families, and reside in large cities. What makes them different, is how they choose to live their lives after college. This is their time to work different jobs, live at home, and not have too many constraints to tie themselves down. This is their time to prepare for becoming an adult, according to Grossman. What makes this interesting is how the traditional adults in a young persons life responded to this, such as parents, teachers, and society.

It is the authors opinion that todays young adults not only need to be competitive in science, technology, and productivity, but also in the ways of culture. They need a lot of reading and writing and an involved home and school environment. This includes teachers, mentors, and family members who communicate with them when things are right and wrong. It is these formative mentors who need to remind young people that there is more to life than their social life. He reminds us that it takes a village to raise a child. He says it is flexible, but is concerned that it is breaking down with "The Dumbest Generation".

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Online Learning and Non-Learning

Chapter four is centered around the idea that, for as much time as students spend in front of "screens," they don't know how to research topics, write, spell, speak, and have a real, adult social life.
With workplace and school success depending on finding correct information from reliable sources, it is troubling that students cannot succeed in this area. EDUCASE, a non profit association, found students ranked the use of technology for learning, at fourth on the benefits list of technology. They also found, students are not able to decide which research materials are best suited in the workplace or school settings. Students are able to do much more with technology, but fail to use it correctly for work and school assignments.
Many schools have partnered with companies and associations, in order to put into place a technology iniative to improve educational outcomes. Schools around the country have sold science equipment, done away with field trips, opted out of music programs, all for the sole purpose of purchasing technology tools and paying the salary of technology specialists. Even universities such as, Duke, have purchased iPods or demanded the purchase of labtops by beginning freshman. The educational goals the school districts and educational firms and associations hoped for have not been met.
The students are excited to have new technology in their schools. However, with educational goals not being met, the learning that was supposed to take place has not made a permanent home in the minds of our students. Students with access to computers do not perform better on reading tests. The scores go down, instead of up, across subject areas. Even if classrooms and computers did use reading or mathematics software, test scores did not improve.
U.S. senators even proposed a bill restricting financial burdens. They didn't restrict or ask for achievement scores. They didn't question if technology is improving education.
The chapter then changes focus into language acquisition. Students vocabulary grows in school. However, most of the vocabulary growth takes place in play and informal situations. The more time a student spends in front of the screen, the more their language acquisition skills are hurt. This is due to high frequency words and rare word rates on the screen versus play/home situations. If a child is encourage to speak and play, the higher their vocabulary growth. If a child is sat in front of the television, the child hears many words over and over again. They do not hear those "rare" words that are essential for vocabulary growth. By kindergarten, the vocabulary difference between a child who plays and a child who is sat in front of the television is gigantic. This can be irreversable.
Students today see their models through "horizontal" eyes, instead of "vertical" eyes. Vertical modeling is that from maturity improves. It comes from conversations and learning from adults, such as grandparents, teachers, and ministers. However, students today are focused on the constant contact they keep with their peers. They walk in the door and can easily maintain contact with their classmates. This is "horizontal" modeling. Students are centered around each other and therefore, have no room for improvement or not person to look to for improvement. Students can make their computers only give them what they want. The author even states on page 155, "The screen blocks the ascent." He is speaking of adolesents moving into adulthood. In order to do so, students need verbal skills, which they do not receive looking at a screen. With RSS feeds, students can only bring in the news they care about. The one quote out of the book that stuck out to me was, "Reality is personalized, and the world outside steadily tallies the ego inside." (I don't think I'm supposed to put in my own opinion here, but I just have to say how very sad for SOME students to not care about the world around them and what is happening in it.)
The idea is that technology offerings are improving the "high order thinking skills" that video games offer. Students are able to make decisions, create, analyze, and interpret decisions when playing the video games. However, employers across the nation are constantly complaining of how little "low order thinking skills" students have. Students have poor writing, spelling, and grammar. All of which, they need in the workplace.
Some people say what is the difference between book reading and web reading. It is still reading, only using a different medium. However, studies show that when people read online their eyes focus on certain parts of the page and skim, or entirely miss, other parts of the page. Or, if a webpage looks anything like a book page, certain readers will close out of the screen immediately. So are they really reading if they are reading it online? Nielsen's research indicates, "...the Web is a consumer habitat, not an education one" (Pg 149). Nielsen even grants ideas to web designers on how to keep customers on their site longer.
So, who do we blame? We can't just blame the parents who use technology as an improtu babysitter. Parents need time to cook and clean too. We can't just blame the web designers and technology inventors. They need a job too. The author suggests blaming the teachers, librarians, and writers who do not separate the good from the bad, or education from technology. So, who do we blame for the milleanials, who are incapable of low order thinking skills or moving from the teenage years to the adult years?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Chapter 2

It seems in this chapter that the author is trying to convince us that people, especially 15-24 year olds, don't read. I got the impression it was they didn't like to read what was assigned. But that is "old" stuff. Why not work with current "new release" books for young adults? An 8th grade teacher in our area did that and the kids were excited to read them.
Thought 2--Some people just don't like to read. They can and are very capable, but they don't like to spend their leisure time reading. Maybe people are too active and spend their leisure time doing more active things. Is their really anything "wrong" with that?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Section 3 - Screen Time

This chapter talks about the amount of time children of different ages spend watching tv, playing video games, surfing the internet, and doing other things involving time in front of a screen. There are a lot of studies and statistics mentioned, and most are given in a positive way that seems to support the idea that these new technologies are great for boosting human intelligence. I will not get into all of the statistics mentioned. The main thing that this chapter was about concerns how different groups view the integration of new technologies into our daily lives and how these technologies will affect our intelligence. The majority of the chapter cited studies and articles done by groups or indiviuals who strongly believe in the Digital Revolution as a new means of expanding human knoledge. The last few pages of the chapter simply ask us, "where are the result?". Many years have passed since the beginning of the digital revolution, and more and more studies are showing that things like spelling, grammar, and arithmetic are steadily declining.

That was my basic understanding of this chapter. I liked how it was structured because it made me try to think about some positive affects that playing video games, surfing the web, using social networking sites, and other things of the like. I really struggled with some of the wonderful and positive results that were being listed as a result of playing video games, and was pleased to read a more realistic description towards the end of the chapter.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Book Cover

Our kids spend their time doing this -- not reading, learning to have a conversation, learning to think. Our kids will be video gaming heroes, but unfortunately, not thinkers.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Introduction & Chapter 1: Knowledge Deficits

Mark Bauerlein starts his book with an introduction of how hard students are pushed in high school to achieve perfection. But then goes on to show with surveys that very little time is used for homework on a daily basis. (pages 1-6) He states on page 7, "This book is an attempt to consolidate the best and broadest research into a different profile of the rising American mind. It doesn't cover behaviors and values, only intellect of under-30-year-olds. . . . It sticks to one thing, the intellectual condition of young Americans, and describes it with empirical evidence, recording something hard to document but nonetheless insidious happening inside their heads."
We start chapter 1 with a reminder of the "Jaywalkers" segments for The Tonight Show with Jay Leno. Mark Bauerlein goes on to say that high school students are not uninterested in world realities (history, literature, civics) but that they are "cut off from them." They are more involved with "friends, work, clothes, cars, pop music, sitcoms, Facebook." (page 13)
The middle of the chapter is devoted to surveys and statistics about what high school and college students know (or don't know) in history, civics, math, science, technology, and fine arts.
The next section discusses why students test scores have not increased in social studies over the last few generations. Students know no more now that the generation 50 years ago. (pages 26-30) Yet they have more resources such as libraries, museums, internet, and news broadcasts any where they go. (page 31)
In the last section of this chapter, the author does some comparing of leisure time vs. educational time and the impact the two have on each other.

A quote I kept coming back to is on page 32. "This is the paradox of the Dumbest Generation. For the young American, life has never been so yielding, goods so plentiful, schooling so accessible, diversion so easy, and liberties so copious. . . . The 18-year-old may have a Visa card, cell phone, MySpace page, part-time job, PlayStation 2, and an admission letter from State U, but ask this wired and on-the-go high school senior a few intellectual questions and the facade of in-the-know-ness crumbles."
My question is, "WHY?"

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Super summarizer

Hi everybody--
I got the assignment today that I am the first summarizer and it is due today. So I will try and have something put together by Sunday night. (That can mean midnight in my life.) Have a great weekend and relax until Monday.

I chose this because I sometimes think that the future generations will be able to do more work from their "private space" than out in the "real world."

I chose the image of Fruit Loops cereal because of a connection I made with my book, The Dumbest Generation. I am referring to Fruit Loops as slang to being dumb.

Monday, October 25, 2010

I chose this image for "The Dumbest Generation" because it personalizes it to each individual with the word "me." It is almost as if, not only do we do these things on the computer, but it is almost as if we can do it to ourselves also.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

This magical image of books seeming to float in mid-air represents a view that the youth of today might have of books. I wonder how many students are still active readers of books, and how many are more likely to read websites, blogs, and social website posts. This view of books as magical things of the past may contribute to the intellectual and social destruction of man.

Welcome to Literature Circle Twenty-eight!

Your Super Summarizer schedule is as follows:

Section One--Due October 28, Jamie Karabatsos
Section Two-- Due November 4, Nicomas Dollar
Section Three--Due November 11, Brooks Bowman
Section Four--Due November 18, Tasha Ellingson
Section Five--Due December 2, Lynanne Greer
Section Six--Due December 9, Susan Satter and Charles Arsenault