In the previous post, I alluded to the stereotype of the Millennial Generation’s alleged sense of entitlement and lack of motivation, the impression given by previous generations that they are immersed in their digital devices, barely raising their heads from their latest text to say a distracted and irritable “hi” in the real world. A “generation of eye-rollers” and social networking time wasters.
So how true is this? And instead of listening to the low level hum of frustrated parents, let’s turn to a better representative of the generation itself, 14-year-old educator and speaker Adora Svitak. since I can already sense hackles raising (14 years old!?), I should point out that she has already written three books in her short life (Flying Fingers, Dancing Fingers and Yang in Disguise) was one of TED’s youngest speakers and has reached out to over 400 school classrooms via video conferencing. At age 7, she wrote a quarter of a million words in that one year. She has serious credentials, in other words, and if you want to see her in action, check out her YouTube channel.
Her arguments centre on a common sense question: why do we have to choose between “distracted” or “engaged”? Surely kids are both, in a world they have to jump in and out of adeptly. To move from a state of almost permanent digital communication into a world of textbooks and blackboards. This takes no small measure of dexterity and adaptability. Relevant to this, I want to quote at some length from BetterCloud (a provider of Google Apps extensions) CEO David Politis:
A few weeks ago, a school administrator shared a story about how he tried to block Google’s chat feature, but his students created a workaround. They opened up a new Google Doc, shared it with friends, and used the sidebar chat to talk with each other [fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][…] Although the behavior was worrisome to the administrator, it was hard not to be impressed at how cleverly these 7th graders interacted with the software.
Svitak similarly argues that Facebook, while being Facebook, is also used by kids as a study hall in which kids post resources for upcoming tests, etc. Facebook itself recognised this trend and launched Groups For Schools, a collaborative venue for students and teachers.
The point being that for every negative stereotype, it’s possible to counter with a positive. And yet those positives are less obvious to adults who don’t fully connect with the complexities and subtleties of online culture. After hearing her discussion on stage at their own conference Mashable Connect, Mashable followed up with a good article based on her arguments and ideas, and I strongly recommend it.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]