July 23, 2015

A Thought for Thursday: Rewired

Have you seen this video yet? It really made me think.

This little video demonstrates a vast difference between the current generation of students and those that came before. I've been teaching long enough to have spanned a generation (nearly two) and I readily see the difference, in likes, behavior, modality of learning, etc. and I've also seen how I've had to change my teaching over the years to meet these changing student characteristics.

What has been very interesting to me is that these generational changes are not just of the nuture kind, in other words, learning from the environment or what someone is exposed to. There is actually a nature, or biological change taking place in our students as a result of their exposure to so much technnology, in this shift from active play to constantly stimulated mental play. It's an evolutionary shift of sorts.

An excellent text that discusses this issue and provides advice for dealing with it is titled Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn.
Here's what Amazon has to say about this text.
Look around at today's youth and you can see how technology has changed their lives. They lie on their beds and study while listening to mp3 players, texting and chatting online with friends, and reading and posting Facebook messages. How does the new, charged-up, multitasking generation respond to traditional textbooks and lectures? Are we effectively reaching today's technologically advanced youth?Rewired is the first book to help educators and parents teach to this new generation's radically different learning styles and needs. This book will also help parents learn what to expect from their "techie" children concerning school, homework, and even socialization. In short, it is a book that exposes the impact of generational differences on learning while providing strategies for engaging students at school and at home.
I had the opportunity to read this book about four years ago, shortly after it came out, and I remember thinking that Dr. Rosen was on to something. Yet in the hustle and bustle of everyday life and changing school buildings, Rewired's message got a little lost in the shuffle. I remember the gist of the message but not the details. Seeing the Nature Valley video made me think of it, find it on my Kindle, and peruse it once again.

As I'm reading Rewired again, I am struck by the author's description of the current generation of students. He refers to them as multi-taskers by need and not by choice. They MUST be doing several things at once. That's how they are wired, literally! Their brains are wired to do many things at once. However, the depth of their task completion is not that of previous students. Today's students tend to do lots of work and cover lots of material but at a much shallower level than previous generations. The author claims that as a result of being exposed to so much sensory information and stimulation from such an early age, gone are the days in school when students can focus for extended periods of time on one assignment. I am reminded of the old adage... A Jack of all trades but a Master of none! 

The Common Core calls for depth of knowledge, quality of coverage rather than quantity of coverage. Think of those ELA standards that state that a student will read for EXTENDED periods of time or write for EXTENDED periods of time. Uh oh! Time for me to keep reading to see what we educators can do to help our current students succeed! I am fascinated!

Have any of you read this book? Have you read anything else on this topic or similar topics?

I'm adding this post to the Teaching Trio's technology linky. Be sure to stop by their blog to read more posts about technology in the world of teaching.

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