Facebook fools?

Authors debate anti-intellectualism in the digital generation

By on October 19, 2010

Mark and Marc, with their intense criticism of the “digital generation,” attempted to make their mark on Quinnipiac freshmen by motivating them to be more interested in their education.

Mark Bauerlein, author of “The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes our Future,” and Marc Prensky, author of “Teaching Digital Natives—Partnering for Real Learning,” answered questions from Quinnipiac freshmen about the future of education in a digital world on Oct. 12 in the Recreation Center.

Bauerlein argued that teenagers spend too much time socializing through technology instead of using their time for meaningful intellectual thought. He explained how teens use technology to communicate all day, every day, which is negatively affecting them.

“This generation is peer-pressured into anti-intellectual conversations,” Bauerlein said. “We must stop teen-to-teen contact–it must be limited. There is no limit of socializing. It has created an intense peer-consciousness which hinders intellectual tools.”

Prensky, on the other hand, stated that if students use technology wisely, they have the potential to make new knowledge.

“Students get a bad reputation; however, they have the potential to be the greatest generation in history,” Prensky said. “They should fill that potential to invent new ways to learn better and use it to make their education much better.”

Both authors agreed that in moderation, technology can be very beneficial not only for education, but also for this generation’s personal benefit.

After their presentations, Bauerlin and Prensky opened the floor for questions from the audience. The authors admitted they didn’t have the solution to our education problem and were open to suggestions from the students.

“We thought about how to [present the debate],” Prensky said. “One of the ways that we thought of was to be very point-counterpoint to each other. That might be fun to watch, but it’s not as interesting as to deal with what the students think and feel.”

QU 101 Seminar Coordinator Timothy Dansdill intended to make the debate a large QU seminar experience. The debate organizers decided on this format only an hour before the event.

“The debaters had interesting points to make, but the question and answer session was long and repetitive,” freshman Sherri Hughes said. “I think we all got less out of the experience because of the format.”

Students from both sides of the issue addressed their opinion in front of these distinguished authors and hundreds of their peers. Some argued if technology was used more in the classroom, they would be more productive, while others favored more traditional teaching styles.

“Education shouldn’t be fun; it’s not meant to be a game,” freshman Ashley Hartle said. “To make it computer-based in order to help the students because they are able to ‘multi-task’ is like holding their hand. Education is for your career, you have to deal with things you don’t want to do.”

There was no conclusion and no clear winner of this debate; the future of teaching with technology is still uncertain. The authors said the future of education is in the hands of students and educators.

“Clearly this a key relevant question for this generation,” Dansdill said. “I would say the students got up and basically represented Quinnipiac University quite well and their generation quite well–of those who stayed.”

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