Professors need some teaching, too

By on October 20, 2010

It’s early in the morning on a typical weekday in a typical classroom. I’m sitting behind my desk, notebook open, when I begin to observe what has become an almost daily occurrence for faculty alike: the attempt to operate their computer.

With a few clicks and frustrated grunts, my teacher finally opens her PowerPoint file, but much to her dismay, cannot figure out how to cycle slides. After a few more angry clicks, my teacher begins to fiddle with the cables, and even turn the overhead on and off.

This is a painful sight.

It’s hard to go through this often and think that Mark Bauerlein’s controversial novel “The Dumbest Generation” has any validity. It never ceases to amaze me that my teacher can spend over an hour reciting Socrates passages or explain the world’s history with ease, but when it comes to turning on a computer, all hell breaks loose.

There is an apparent gap between our generation and any prior. Before “Generation Y,” adults and the youth differed in tastes of music, fashion styles, and other factors. With the advent of the Internet, the difference has become digital. Record players have become iPods, Polaroid’s are now jpegs, and phone calls turned into wall posts – products of the new tech-savvy generation.

But not a “dumb” one.

It seems that Bauerlein and other believers of our “declining” generation have shifted the blame of youth stupidity to whatever is popular, which is very common. In the sixties and seventies, the rapid increase of drug availability was stereotyped as the reason behind youth rebellion, and in the eighties the metal heads and perhaps radical fashion was to blame. The culprit for us is apparently our relationship with the computer.

Our companionship with computers isn’t necessarily our fault. It is mandatory to have a laptop to get by in modern education, and this idea is even branching to most high schools. Books are starting to be bought digitally as opposed to a hard, used and worn copy. Teachers more and more take advantage of the Blackboard system at Quinnipiac, and no longer require hard printed copies of assignments.

How are we the dumbest generation if we’re being forced to succumb to technology in every aspect? If the only way I can communicate with a professor is through e-mail, why am I being called dumb for it? If we are the dumbest generation, does that make Bauerlein’s generation the most inept?

I disagree with these classifications. What Bauerlein most likely has faced is the wrath of youth angry at his branding. I know many who scoffed at the title of his book, reacting angrily and perhaps without understanding of his points. But this anger should be avoided. All Bauerlein is fueling with his book is a further separation from the youth and the elderly.

Initially, my parents detested Facebook. They saw me spend so much time on it, and even saw a few lewd photos, leading to their disapproval. After a few months, however, they both signed up, and now are listed as my parents proudly and publicly. They contact me often through the site when a phone call cannot be made.

This is what we need: a coinciding of both generations, a mutual understanding created that can be made for good, not for isolation. After seeing my teacher struggle, I stood up, among several of my own close peers, and made my way to her podium, and proceeded to help. Ever since, class begins and functions with little to no technical difficulties. It is important for the adults to teach the youth, and now, for the first time, it is important for the youth to teach the teachers.

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About Phil Nobile

Senior Writer
Email: news@quchronicle.com
Twitter: @PhilNobile
Year: 2013
Major: Print journalism
Hometown: White Plains, N.Y.
Dream Job: Writer for The New York Times or Rolling Stone