Sunday, March 24, 2013

Are Kids getting dumber?

Are kids getting dumber?
Mark Bauerlein asks the question,” Is technology making kids dumber?”   This is an interesting question.  I have often wondered this also.  Recently my students had to make measurement conversions.  This caused them much distress.  I was amazed at how many 9th grade students did not know how many cups are in a pint and from there figure out how many cups are in a gallon.  They did not know how many feet are in a mile and even how many feet are in a yard.  When they have to pick a verb out of a sentence, they are completely lost.  Many cannot do simple addition facts without the aid of a calculator.  It seems they lack basic knowledge. They cannot name the states that surround Pennsylvania. Some are not able to locate Pennsylvania on a map.  They cannot name the oceans or the continents.  They are unable to locate countries on a map.  Many cannot make change.  Some cannot read an analog clock.  They do not know what the term “quarter till the hour” means or “10 after the hour” means.  One student didn’t understand why he need to memorize these things as he could Google them and he can use a calculator to do the math and he did not need to know how to read a map, that is what map quest or GPS are for.  When proof reading students work, I am finding they do not know how to use proper English and spellings.  The use of “U” in place of you,” bcuz” for because, “gr8”, “k” and other short cuts appear in their writing.  They do not know what formal writing is.  If they are made to write a paragraphs of a least 5 sentences, they are lost.  Their world consists of short replies made using language short cuts.  They seem unable to put more than two coherent thoughts together.  Anything that takes longer than two minutes to do is not worth doing and takes much too long.  Yet they think I am the dumb one that I do not have Facebook, or Twitter account.  When they find out I do not know or recognize the names of celebrities, I am the dumb one.  The fact that I do not care what a movie star had for lunch yesterday is something they cannot understand.   This is the knowledge they find important and they need to know.  The other “stuff” they can find on the internet when they need to know it.
Link to Mark Bauerlein question and answer session.


  1. What an intriguing question! And I have to say... I agree! I see many of the same things with my students. It seems like students are definitely getting smarter about how to find information and knowing where to locate it, but they are definitely dumber with basic knowledge. A calculator should not be needed for basic math and Google should not be the end all for finding information. It amazes me the basic knowledge that students don't know because they think it's not important to actually learn it and know it and they think they'll just look up the answer whenever they need it. It drives me nuts when students think it's appropriate to use texting code for writing, like you mentioned in your post. And it's hard to teach them that it's not appropriate because they just don't understand why. So yes, I agree that in some regards technology is definitely making students dumber! Great post!

  2. I completely agree with you; in fact, from the examples you listed, I am wondering whether you teach in my district or not! These examples are the same things that I see every day! While I have recently switch from teaching senior high to junior high, I am amazed by the lack on analytical skills that I see in my students. Their inability to write a logical paragraph or a paper that comes to any sort of conclusion frigtens me. What frightens me more are the parents that are enabling this behavior to continue and stick up for their kids when they whine about too much work. Parents come with complaints of stress, headaches, etc. I remind my students and parents that stress can be a good thing because it teaches us time management and coping skills. I constantly tell my students that in the "real world" no one is going to baby them or take their excuses; unfortunately, the "real world" seems as distant as Narnia to many of my students.

  3. Your heading is a great attention grabber! I understand the frustration of working with students who feel they must have a calculator in order to do even the simplest of math problems. Most students have some form of a calculator with them - an actual calculator, a computer, or a cell phone, and therefore feel it is not worth their time to memorize the facts. I often have students ask me the time. I show them the face clock and smile. They often figure it out… They were just lazy. I agree with you that if something takes more than 2 minutes, then it is too long and students give up trying. I often think it is more that students don’t want to take time to figure out answers/solutions so they just give up. We are living in a world of instant gratification and a world that is “all about me”. If they can’t get what they want when they want it, it is not worth it. Luckily, there are those students who do work hard and will be our future leaders. There is hope!

  4. I feel as though students have become so dependent on technology that they not only cannot write they even have a hard time having conversations. They lack eye contact and do not take the time to make phone calls or talk to people face to face. I think social networking is great and will help them with networking when they graduate college, but I feel it is totally inappropriate for the younger kids to be on Facebook at all. I love the article by Mark Bauerlein, he brings up so many interesting points. I think one thing that all parents and maybe even schools need to implement is to make students have multiple days where they must be completely technology free. I think everyone would go crazy, but it would be so healthy!