Our district offers an online course in Early Adolescent Development for middle school staff who are interested in an overview of the physical, cognitive, social emotional, and identity development milestones that are students are experiencing. This fall, I am facilitating the course for the second time. One of my favorite questions that participants answer as they work their way through the material is Are kids today really that different than they were when you were a kid? because it requires people to grapple with how differences in environment affect children, as well as any greater impact that large-scale changes might have on society and culture as a whole.
Here's what a couple of people have written:
1. I really do feel that kids today are much more visually-oriented as many of them have grown up with TV and videos from a very early age.
2. With so much technology and external stimuli readily available, there seems to be a much lower threshold for boredom.
3. How many of us have seen a student using the computer, texting on a cell phone, and doing homework at the same time? It makes me wonder how many college students are working diligently in a library carrels these days? Or are they working with laptops sitting on their beds in their dorm rooms?
4. Of course, with our modern fears, how many children are allowed to roam and explore freely through our neighborhoods?
5. How many kids today are comfortable with silence?
While it wasn't that long ago when I was the KID, I still have to answer "yes" to this question. Just the other day I asked someone, how did we survive without cell phones? Without the internet? Without the immediate gratification of instant news, communication and feedback? As I commented on my assignment guide, kids today are living in a multi-media, need-to-know-NOW, technology-rich environment. I really feel that this type of "environment" has really played into how we teach and how we approach our teaching - in both positive and "not-so" positive ways. In many ways, I wish I had the technology that kids today have - online databases with CURRENT research, Web 2.0 Media, cell phones, internet, Smart Boards. But on the other side, I am very appreciate to how I grew up. My sister and I invented games to play. We built forts, played outside, rode our bikes, did arts & crafts... car rides included conversations with our parents & other family members, not playing video games & watching DVDs.
What would you say?