I was born to be an old man. Some people dread getting older, getting wrinkled, and getting cranky. Not me. I understand why they are called the golden years. In order to make the most of my old-manhood, I have decided to practice. This rant is the result.
I recently started in a new teaching position, and on the first day of the new semester (and my first day on the job), my students were required to fill out “Student Data Sheets.” These were pretty basic, asking for both student and parent contact info. I couldn’t believe the number of students who asked permission to take out their cell phones to get the necessary data. I understand not knowing your parent’s cell phone number when you are 15 and have your own phone with your folks programmed into it, but not knowing your own home phone number?! It seems trivial, but I think this is indicative of a dangerous trend.
Technology has made the storage and retrieval of information so easy that there is no need for any basic memorization anymore. Why read a book when there is Wikipedia or Sparknotes online for free? Why memorize a poem or a passage when you can just search for it on your iPhone?
Don’t get me wrong, I love being able to find just about anything on the internet. What worries me is that we are producing generations of young people who have no conception of what it means to analyze, memorize, and synthesize information because they simply don’t have to. These blasted kids absolutely refuse to read assigned literature. It makes much more sense to them to read a summary that tells them the gist of whatever the assignment is, and finding such a summary is now a piece of cake. That serves them well for the present. Someday they will need the ability to think without internet assistance. What happens then? I’ll tell you what happens: they will hold me up in line at Luby’s because they won’t have the mental capacity to choose between lemon meringue and key lime pie (the answer is both).
I don’t know how to combat this problem. I might even be overreacting. I just can’t help but think that the technologies of convenience in schools today will become the technologies of dependence in all parts of society tomorrow.
Here’s what we’re going to do. First, you kids get off my lawn. Then, turn off the devil music. Next, pull up your pants. Finally, go read a book.
Anyone who comments gets an imaginary butterscotch.