Amy's Reviews > The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future

The Dumbest Generation by Mark Bauerlein
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's review
Jul 29, 2009

really liked it
bookshelves: education
Read in July, 2009

This book was a particularly pertinent read for me since I find myself on both sides of Bauerlein's audience. Being under 30, I am as the title suggests, "not to be trusted" but as a teacher of today's youth, I see the repercussions of our society on education and am almost as frustrated as Bauerlein. (I truly believe no one could be MORE frustrated than Bauerlein; which may be a turn-off to some readers, but I find it refreshing in light of how our districts and administration tell us what methods of teaching will best impact our students.)

I will preface this by saying I am extremely wary of many of the statistics he uses. I more than understand how data can be manipulated to say what you want it to say and this book is on my radar for such use. For instance, I'm not sure that 49% of 18-24 year olds haven't read a single book for outside pleasure (mind you a cookbook, celebrity bio, sports, history would have counted as a "book") and if this IS the case, then how much can be accounted for by the fact that some of these students are overwhelmed with their course reading and have little time for outside material? Despite my skepticism, I read on and thoroughly enjoyed and agreed with what he had to say.

He hits it right on the head when Bauerlein avers that technology is NOT a panacea for learning. Sticking a kid in front of a screen will not necessarily entice them or help them learn more effectively. Reading this in light of "Why Don't Students Like School?" helped me to reflect on why this would be the case and what DOES encourage students to learn. Any teacher reading this should definitely also pick up "Why Don't Students Like School". After this downer, you need to read that students can be taught and impacted.

I realized I am turning into a crusty old woman when I read (and vehemently agreed) that " Jean Twenge groused, 'We need to stop endlessly repeating, 'You're special,' and having children repeat that back. Kids are self-centered enough already.'" The narcisistic youth of today's culture hears time and time again that they are doing "great". We are teaching kids that they're good enough as is, no improvement needed. This makes it extremely hard to push them or to give them constructive criticism. They don't take it well!!!

I could probably write an entire dissertation on this book, but I will stop now. I will concede that I am doing exactly what I hated that Bauerlein did; I am making generalizations. When I say "they", I DO NOT mean each and every one of the teens that cross my path. I had some extremely talented students who strove to meet their best. I truly admired those who weren't happy with an "A" because they knew that they were capable of 100%. It may seem ridiculous, but to me this indicated that they weren't all about the grade, but about the learning experience.

This book was dead-on. I recognized many of my own flaws (I use my computer for Facebook hours a week and yet I never look up articles on world news. Shame on me!!!) Hopefully I will learn a lesson as well!

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02/27 marked as: read

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