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Shawn James Jr.

intern, TED


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Is the generation in education getting less intelligent than the ones before them or smarter?

I often hear people say that the generation after them are not as smart as they were growing up. By people I mean the adults like my parents and grandparents. What is your input on the issues with education? Do you believe the education system is falling apart?


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    Jun 16 2011: Well, it depends on what type of intelligence your discussing. The current generation (mine), is being raised in a technology era. I think it is very ignorant for one to say the ability to form theories is lost. We may have Google in our belt of tools; but, that does not take away from the fact WE as people are creating. I am being raised in a society constructed of multi- taskers. Our curiosity for knowledge, has driven us to create the internet.
    Yes, maybe we don't look through tedious dictionaries, or write a letter anymore. But, can you honestly say that if we continued to follow the ways of our past generations we would be in the same place we are today?
    Look at our advances in the practice of medicine, or technology. It is just purely evolution.
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      Jun 16 2011: i agree the reason why calculators were created was to solve even more difficult problems.. i mean if we sit and manually multiply 1746382/24353 it would take us quite some time :) we are the fast generation and we are driven by innovation and our ability to question.
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      Jun 16 2011: jacqueline, yes your generation is constructed of multi-taskers, but we are finding out that this is not necessarily a good thing. What if the net was suddenly POOF!!! GONE!!! Then what would you actually know and be able to do coming from just your memory and skill??? Just wondering.

      And Sistia, yes I cannot imagine having to multiply those numbers, but it can be done...and the fact that people are losing the skill in doing so is what bothers me. I don't know how many times I have been in a store where the sales clerk has lost the ability to see how much change to give me back, and I am the one who has to tell him/her. That is what scares me. Yes, it takes me a longer time to do my taxes, but I first do them using my "original calculator", my brain, and then I double-check with my calculator. I am with Emerson when he wrote over 170 years ago: "The arts and technology of each era are only window dressing and do not give people life. The harm of improved technology may balance out its good." I can only imagine what he would say today!

      But with all this said, I am not knocking technology here, esp. when it comes to what we can do with it medically and scientifically, nor your digital natives, but I just don't want technology to be the "be all and end all" of learning and life. My students still learn with just a book and a pen/pencil and an occasional post-it when they are cajoled by me. Imagine that!
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      Jun 17 2011: I would not be so quick to brag about being a generation of multi-taskers. Turns out the more you multi-task the worse you are at it. Here one study but there are plenty more.


      To be fair I don't see this as a generational issue, plenty of people of all ages seem too be a bit deluded on this one,
      • Jun 24 2011: i've seen that study, the problem with it is that they assume that 100% attention equates to doing something well. the way multi-taskers excel is by doing enough of each task and using the left-over attention for other tasks.

        eg if you're watching the tv and doing the dishes at the same time, they'd argue that you're not doing a very good job of watching the tv, however it's not necessary to catch every single word and pixel on the screen to follow whatever it is you're watching.

        notice in the study how they judge a subject's effectiveness by evaluating how well they focus on a single task? -
        "hey you're only focussed 80% on this task! you're not doing it well!"
        "yes i am, it only needs 80%..."
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          Jun 26 2011: Multitasking was originally used to describe a computer ability to process different information at the same time. This ability was sold to the public as something that would improve their lives,which it has since it make computers faster. The problem is we do not so much as multitask as we task switch at increasing fast rates, even when you are doing dishes by the TV. Would you wash dishes during your favorite movie. I wouldn't. It why even having a cell phone conversation when driving increases the chances of accidents. When having a conversation with a passenger in a car the driver and passenger will intuit-ally stop talking when road conditions become more complex and resume conversation when the road straightens and traffic mellow. A person on the other end of a cell phone does not have such data and will vie for the drivers attention during any traffic condition causing a potential hazard. If we could multitask this would not be a problem.

          Here an article that goes into the brain mechanics of it.

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          Jun 27 2011: So people multi-task on a bunch of low-priority jobs, so that they can finish them and have single-minded focus on one high-priority job.

          I honestly don't think anybody can multi-task on really important matters.
      • Jun 27 2011: i agree and that's my point - just because you are not highly focused on a low-priority job doesn't mean you are doing it poorly.

        i'm sure you wouldn't argue that one cannot keep their place in a queue for movie tickets while talking on the phone? however it would be more difficult to read the back of the shirt of the person standing in front of you while talking on said phone, since it requires more attention, and this attention must be subtracted from the phone call.

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