Friday, June 26, 2009

A Slinky Approach to History

Earlier today I heard an expert talking about today's youth being illiterate and unlearned. This he said was in spite of all the information they had at their fingertips. This is a ridiculous thesis. When the printing press first came out, the elder generation wailed at the fact that oratory history was lost. They felt that the next generation was ignorant, stupid, and the caretakers of the future were squandering away all that their predecessors had laid out for them. They tried to understand past, present, and future in a linear fashion, like going from point A to point B in a straight line. Their children were dumber because they could not recite Homer's Odyssey from memory. When will we learn?

The previously mentioned expert challenged his class to research obituaries on a few different literary giants. He then challenged them to do this without the use of the internet and marveled at their discomfort. That was his proof, these kids cannot research without Google. Really? I would love to see that same professor recite an obit from memory, without the aid of any written text... at the tender age of let's say....sixteen. Or do a research paper without entering any library.

Just because the next generation does not do something as well as the previous does not mean they are worse. The word one needs to keep in mind is 'obsolete', as in 'you are way before you want to be.'

We use social media to rekindle past relationships, where today's youth uses it to establish relationships. Members of the general public know how to use the Dewey System and Google, but few are master's of either. History is not a straight line, but a spiral. A Slinky going up and down, left and right on the most random staircase M. C. Escher ever created.

Pass the torch, and quit wondering if Ali would have beaten Tyson.

Jackson will one day laugh at my ineptitude on any given future digital device.

That's okay, I will kick his ass at Mario Bros.

Eric

2 comments:

Sylvie said...

This "expert"? Exactly what is his or her area of expertise? Surely this unenlightened individual is not anti-internet. Especially not if he/she is all about obituaries! ;) I mean, we were reading Ed McMahon's, Farrah Fawcett's and Michael Jackson's obits within minutes of their deaths, thanks to the internet. Would this expert have you wait until the printed word makes it to the news stand or the public library before you get the details?

Maybe this sad person had to walk five miles to school through snowstorms and thunderstorms and broiling sun as a child. Would he/she feel that modern transportation has invalidated the education you coddled children received because you got to school the easy way? Just curious.

I have more. :) xo

Anonymous said...

Certainly students need to be able to accomplish research tasks by using all methods available to them. Unfortunately, often many do rely on the internet exclusively. When we Boomers were kids, taking your whole report from just the encyclopedia (the consumate body of knowledge at the time) was a similar problem.