The end of the “Norman Rockwell never painted ‘Boy Swiping Finger on Screen'” quote, by Rosin in The Atlantic (April 2013), is that (still) “our own version of a perfect childhood has never adjusted to accommodate that now-common tableau” (p. 58; online version March 2013). For me the question is not so much about ‘creating’ or theorizing the perfect childhood, but questioning why education has not adjusted to accommodate this.
As an educator thinking about education I need to think about ways to engage students where I embrace their use of technology as their solution. The “best practice” should simply be getting to end results of student engagement and academic achievement – learning. Again, I am reminded of Wesch’s cultural anthropology class video A Vision of Students Today (YouTube).
Of course, even Wesch’s class video was created 5 years ago. However, it challenges us as educators to identify the characteristics of our students today, “how they learn, what they need to learn, their goals, hopes, dreams…” It challenges us to choose content differently, present content differently, and engage students differently than we have traditionally. In short, the video challenges us to choose and deliver content with our audience in mind. Consider the implication; our focus becomes student learning. It means we begin evaluating our teaching not by how well we teach content, but rather how well our students learn.
Rosin gets to this point near the end of her article (beginning with) when she writes about parent and edtech writer Marc Prensky who she says, “has the most extreme parenting philosophy of anyone [she] encountered in [her] reporting.” She describes (p. 65):
Prensky’s 7-year-old son has access to books, TV, Legos, Wii-and Prensky treats them all the same. He does not limit access to any of them. Sometimes his son plays with a new app for hours, but then… he gets tired of it. He lets his son watch TV even when he personally thinks it’s a “stupid waste.” SpongeBob SquarePants, for example, … used the relationship between SpongeBob and Patrick, his starfish sidekick, to teach his son a lesson about friendship.
A quote from Prensky rounds out the paragraph (p. 65) reiterating the need to embrace the challenge of delivering content to today’s learners in a different way:
“We live in a screen age, and to say to a kid, ‘I’d love for you to look at a book but I hate it when you look at the screen’ is just bizarre. It reflects our own prejudices and comfort zone. It’s nothing but fear of change, of being left out.”
Again, consider the implication; again, our focus becomes student learning.
Rosin, H. (April 2013). The Touch-Screen Generation. The Atlantic. Pages 57 – 65.
Wesch, M., and Introduction to Cultural Anthropology Spring 2007. (10.12.2007). A Vision of Students Today. Available on YouTube.
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