Thursday, July 10, 2008

'The Dumbest Generation' by Mark Bauerlein - Los Angeles Times

'The Dumbest Generation' by Mark Bauerlein - Los Angeles Times: "In the four minutes it probably takes to read this review, you will have logged exactly half the time the average 15- to 24-year-old now spends reading each day. That is, if you even bother to finish. If you are perusing this on the Internet, the big block of text below probably seems daunting, maybe even boring. Who has the time? Besides, one of your Facebook friends might have just posted a status update! Such is the kind of recklessly distracted impatience that makes Mark Bauerlein fear for his country. 'As of 2008,' the 49-year-old professor of English at Emory University writes in 'The Dumbest Generation,' 'the intellectual future of the United States looks dim.'"
Well...what say you to this critique of the Millennials? As one who has taught thousands of them, I have a few observations, all of which are generalizations. First, the stereotype that they are technologically sophisticated is nonsense. Apart from using simple consumer electronics that anybody can master, few of them fit that profile. All the majority of them can do is fiddle with cell phones, mp3 players, and and video games. So what?

Second, their knowledge of the world is distorted. They pick up cues from tv and movies and advertising and see things in them that I would miss. But they have no knowledge of history at all, and they don't keep up on current political events unless forced to. For example, many of them love Barack Obama but know practically nothing about his views or his background. They like his media image, and that is something they can read with ease.

Third, they are well-intentioned and community-oriented and would like to make the world a better place, but they have no interest in making major adjustments in their lives to accomplish that. The Obama campaign seems to get that they will sit in front of their computers and donate money and chit chat electronically, because they think that's a cool way to change the world, but that's about it.

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