Saturday, May 15, 2010

Wired from the womb: “We are looking at a generation that can’t not text.” | Get Schooled

Wired from the womb: “We are looking at a generation that can’t not text.” Get Schooled

Here is a blog post that incited a lot of passionate responses from readers. The blog reported on a new book based on the research of psychology professer Dr. Larry Rosen. In a nutshell, Dr. Rosen has proposed strategies for classroom teachers to allow students to access their personal technology in a classroom setting. Some ideas included allowing a five minute break during class time to permit students to catch up on text messages. His premise is based on the assumption that students today cannot not text and that their rewired brains are capable of handling multiple tasks at once.

There are a of points in this article that resonated with me, starting with the blogger's mention that Rosen's daughter was a class valedictorian who attended to television, web surfing and text messaging while doing homework. My contention lies in the suggestion that multitasking is something new. It is not. I fondly recall lying on my living room floor doing homework to the reruns of the Big Valley. I was not class valedictorian, but I did graduate 31st of the 178 in Washington Irving High School's 1978 class. . If I wasn't watching television, I may have been listening to the radio or my eight-track player. I may have been talking on the phone as well. My two points are that multitasking is not new, however expanded, and that multitasking can be done successfully.

The second point that caught my attention is the assertion that teachers are not comfortable multitasking. Hello? Teachers always multitask; how else could they operate three reading groups while runnung stations, make last-minute accomodations for 20 children's dismissal plans, or provide modifications for a wide range of needs? While I get both the author's and the blogger's points about the telecommunication needs of the 21st century student, I get the impression that because of the technology itself the authors are thinking that children are fundamentally different. I don't think so.

In 1978 and the years preceding I could not carry my television program or my eight track player to school with me. I could not text my friends in class, but I could - and did - pass notes. I also doodled and wrote poems while I was listening to lectures. I was multitasking with different tools than our students today. I think it is the same today as in 1978; the only difference is that the implements of distraction are now electronic rather than scribbled.

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