Out of the network

Teaching the transcendentalists and inspired by an essay called “The End of Solitude,” Lightly Seasoned asked AP juniors  to give up social media and TV for one day last weekend.

The journals were fascinating: some kids did it fairly easily and were happily surprised by how productive they were. One kid ended up playing Scrabble with his family instead of going to a concert (because he missed the call): he acted all miffed at me, but he enjoyed the day. Some made no real attempt because they didn’t see any point in defining themselves separately from their social circle … no, they actually said that! This group mostly consisted of the kiddos I know are heavy into the party circuit. I admire how outgoing they are — they’ll know how to network, etc. when they hit the business world, but I wonder how much they know about themselves.

A final group “didn’t want to spend time with their thoughts — they were all about avoiding some painful situations.”

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  1. Diana Senechal says:

    It is the second group that stands out from the other two. The first and third groups saw the point of the exercise; the first group accepted it, and the third resisted it. The second group, it seems, found it irrelevant. Being “connected” was simply their way of life. Why do anything differently?

    It is interesting that the “21st century skills” movement justifies its agenda by pointing to this second group of networked, connected, wired kids–those who see no other way of being. These kids (and adults) are the new generation, they say. But do they represent everyone? And is there virtue in not seeing choices?

  2. In my very small sample, the middle was a minority. I do use technology quite a bit in my classes, but this assignment has reaffirmed the need for quiet, individual work. They need to come to class and just read or write silently sometimes — it might be the only time they get to be with their own brains.


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