Tuesday, August 31, 2010

More Thoughts About the Dumbest Generation

"The decline of school-supporting leisure habits--lower reading rates, fewer museum visits, etc.--created a vacuum in leisure time that the stuff of youth filled all too readily, and it doesn't want to give any of it back. Digital technology has fostered a segregated social reality, peer pressure gone wild, distributing youth content in an instant, across continents, 24/7. Television watching holds steady, while more screens mean more screen time. What passes through them locks young Americans ever more firmly into themselves and one another, and whatever doesn't pass through them appears irrelevant and profitless. Inside the classroom, they learn a little about the historical past and civic affairs, but once the lesson ends they swerve back to the youth-full, peer-bound present. Cell phones, personal pages, and the rest unleash persistent and simmering forces of adolescence, the volatile mix of cliques and loners, rebelliousness and conformity, ambition and self-destruction, idolatry and irreverence, know-nothing-ness and know-it-all-ness, all of which tradition and knowledge had helped to contain. The impulses were always there, but the stern shadow of moral and cultural canons at home and in class managed now and then to keep them in check. But the guideposts are now unmanned, and the pushback of the mentors has dwindled to the sober objections of a faithful few who don't mind sounding unfashionable and insensitive."

p. 200 of The Dumbest Generation by Mark Baurerlein

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