Friday, June 20, 2008

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall...

Bolter's and Gromala's discussion of multiplicity in today's culture reminds me of an interesting debate keep happening amongst the teachers and administrators in my school. The older members of the faculty are baffled by how the younger students are so adept at multiplicity. Many of them do homework while, online, listening to music, watching televison, taking to friends.

Now there is a new school rule which the parents are told to not let their children do any distracting activities while doing homework. The faculty's new argument is: "fine, you are able to do this while doing all of these other things. But, lets see how much better your work is if you simply focus everything on just the homework."

Hmmm, I wonder what would happen if we applied this same logice to all of us.


Anonymous said...

A new school rule in which the parents…

Its homework.
Its school work done at home, under the caregiver’s lax or strict guidance. I guess a reason why there’re actual school settings still are to test this particular faculty quarrel.

For there are no instant messaging or music headphones in an actual school system set-up. Its ground built to have the students focus on their particular studies in a somewhat controlled from distraction environment; in order to “see how much better their work is when they simply focus everything on just schoolwork.” That’s what schoolwork is, not homework.

There is an argument to be made about learning patterns developing while multitasking. But if that argument should ever be properly addressed, many other factors must go into the mix other than schools and parents. Arguments about how society has become so entrenched into a hyperactive, consume-all-be-all mentality. We have growing technology along with fading traditional teaching techniques, and parents who tuck their children to sleep with the television.

Denying a kid access to their cell phone while doing their homework, not schoolwork, is like taking a monkey out of the jungle and letting it loose in a city. Or better yet, add a banana addiction that that monkey chemically has flowing through its brain, and the jungle was the only place where that monkey had access to bananas.

I mean what’s a kid to do anyways when his or her entire social world embodies the encouragement of media multiplicity?

Diagnose them? Give them prescription treatment? Or shall we just label an entire generation hyperactive communicators? Because, that is certainly the way our society in general has arranged their environment; packaged and sold – bought and taught.

Encouraging the parents to enforce a more focused study requirement at home for their children, intended for better brain development... So, let me get this strait. The same teachers that are preaching this impossible dream (to take away the technologies that are glorified by our mass media messages, bought by parents and given to children), are the same teachers that are most likely focused on other technological distractions while making their lesson plan for the next day to teach for their students. These teachers may be great at teaching, and still stay focused on teaching the material message at hand during class time, but still, all the while preparing in front of their television sets, talking on the phone, emailing on the internet, in-between here and there. So because their brain is “fully developed,” they are in better shape to work amongst distractions?

I can see the logic in giving your child a balance. No technology until you finish your homework logic. Makes complete sense.

But that is a battle that goes beyond home relations. How are parents supposed to gain control of that aspect of their children’s homework mentality when they themselves use certain technologies to gain control over their children. Not everyone grows up in the dream. Some are babysat by the technologies.

The school has the right idea for a more focused session of learning at home, but school rules are superseded when the bell rings at 3 o’clock.

Lance Strate said...

Parents need all the help they can get. And it helps a lot to be able to say, this isn't some arbitrary and unfair parental guideline to ignore, this is a school require. A great idea!