Thursday, December 30, 2010

"Growing Up Digitally"

“Every year, many many stupid people graduate from college. And if they can do it, so can you.” — John Green

The thing I hate most about that article is that it brings up many good points that are applicable to many people, so that I can't really rant about it and feel justified. It may not apply to me (for the most part), but that doesn't mean it doesn't have its merits.

More after the jump... Note: Very long post. Beware. I will most certainly not be offended if you don't feel like reading all of it. Just read the article I linked to and form your own opinions.

The article talks a lot about how with the constant stream of information from texting/Facebook/Twitter we teenagers lose our ability to focus and develop a need to multitask.
I find multitasking to be a valuable skill to have, but they make it sound like a bad thing. Yes, the ability to focus is also a very good thing, but so many jobs are cropping up that involve technology and the same sorts of things that we do for fun. Someone has to write the posts for the BBC's Facebook page. Someone has to blog for them. What is Doctor Who Confidential if not just a more-elaborate, longer making-of YouTube video? And it's not just social media. Those are just the things that come to mind that are related to the article. 

The principal mentioned within the article pushed 1st Period to 9:00. Dude, I'm jealous. Think of how much more Lost I could watch per week if I could sleep in another hour and a half. That's two episodes right there. ;) And hey, I go to bed between 10 and 10:30 during the week. I am not one of these 2am + kids they're talking about.

The main kid they're talking about is starting his senior year. He gets mostly Cs and Ds, but an A in filmmaking, which is his passion. During his free time, he spends up to 16 hours making a single video. He's hoping to put these into a portfolio to show to colleges. His grades might not be up to par, but his in-field skills certainly are.

I was raised to value my grades over almost anything else (yet my parents also impressed upon me the importance of a healthy balance), so I can't identify with him when he spends dozens of hours per week playing video games or works on videos to the detriment of his homework. But I know people several people like this. If they don't find something interesting, they won't do it. They focus only when they see reason to. My reason is because I find good grades and the absorption of knowledge to be important. Their reasons are either fun, application, or interest, which are often lacking in schools. I believe that any class can be taught in such a way so as to make it both fun and engaging for any student. It's just that most teachers either don't know how, don't have the resources, don't have the time, or refuse to make the effort.

Maybe it's because this kid (Vishal) didn't have a computer until 7th grade, and I was gaming with my dad ("gaming" as in playing the rated T and M games he liked) almost before I could read. And I learned to read very young. Granted, I played with all of the cheats on, but I never knew a time before easy daily (or would be, if Dad didn't work during the week) computer access. It was always a part of my life, so I learned to integrate everything else into it, instead of the other way around.

I quote: "The technology has created on campuses a new set of social types — not the thespian and the jock but the texter and gamer, Facebook addict and YouTube potato."

Also: "Escaping into games can also salve teenagers’ age-old desire for some control in their chaotic lives. “It’s a way for me to separate myself,” Ramon says. “If there’s an argument between my mom and one of my brothers, I’ll just go to my room and start playing video games and escape.”"  Here's a problem I have with that: Teenagers all have their escape methods. It's just that society looks down on the technology-based ones, and doesn't have a problem with the others. All throughout my life, but especially in middle school,  I would read as much as many play their video games. Does anyone have a problem with that? No. Reading is good for you. But video games? Oh no. There's a problem there.

See, I actually disagree. Reading to the degree that I did wasn't good for me. I had very few social connections in middle school. I hardly ever had friends over, and I hardly ever went over to anyone's house. I was miserable during those three years for a variety of reasons, so I picked up a book whenever I had a few seconds to spare. Is that healthy? No, it's not. (Note: much changed with the onset of high school. I'm a much happier person, and read considerably less than I did. Not to say that I don't read way more than the average teen.)

Another thing within this article that I found interesting was the study on whether or not video games or movies make for better recall of vocabulary words. Video games are more engaging, so we forget the boring vocab more easily. 
I don't think the flaw here is with the video games. I think it's with the vocab. Why not combine the two? There's a school in NY entirely based around video games, and it's going very well.
Some people remember all of the different Pokemon, and all of their characteristics and powers/abilities, and all of their evolutions. Why? Because it's interesting, and knowing these things allow them to progress within the game. So this school applied that concept. The kids both play games, and do game-based projects within the classroom. There's an app for the iTouch and iPhone where your character levels up based on how many items on your real life to-do list you completed. 

"“You can’t become a good writer by watching YouTube," I disagree. The YouTube videos I watch inspire me. The current project I'm working on would not have happened without YouTube. I would not be getting published without YouTube. Take that, English Teacher Lady. Your students just aren't watching the right channels on YouTube.

Kids will only pay attention when they find the material both interesting and relevant. How can you expect them to learn when they don't understand why they need to know it? I've been raised to value knowledge for knowledge's sake, but that doesn't go for everyone. Technology is unavoidable. We can't get rid of it. We will always use it.
So I say we change the medium of education instead.

I am like Vishal and his videos. My Chemistry binder is sitting next to this laptop. Am I finishing my packet? No. I spent over an hour writing a blog post for your enjoyment. I might not be able to make money from this until I'm 18 (curse you, Google AdSense rules), but it matters to me. I have almost 1000 views this month, which is more than any other. My voice is being heard, and what could be more important to a teenager growing into her power than that?

In other news, I got my driver's permit, which means I can now drive with an adult in the car with me. I had to drive during Driver's Ed, but I feel like that doesn't count.
But I can now say that today I drove to a place from a place for a reason. And I didn't hit anyone or anything and I remembered to check my blindspot and all of that other good stuff. I may have pissed off the people behind me, though...I was going kinda slow.

If you made it this far without getting bored (or going to watch a YouTube video or text someone or check Facebook), I congratulate you. You win the non-existant Elf Army Prize of the day. Please leave me a comment saying that you managed it. Those who skimmed don't count. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Talk to me.