“Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state. We are spinning our own fates, good or evil, and never to be undone.”
In The App Generation Howard Gardner and Katie Davis make this profound, but rather ominous statement about the generation of youth who are so focused on being virtually connected they may have forgotten what it means to connect in meaningful soul touching ways. Davis and Gardner present some rather alarming research in this book, but I’m not entirely sure I agree with the latter part of the statement.
Every day we spin our own fates—yes. Good or evil, yes. This is the responsibility we have been given. It is a risk we take.
But never to be undone?
I shudder at the thought that once molded I can never be changed.
Is it infinitely harder—of course, but can you teach an old dog new tricks? Yes, you can. If the old dog wants to learn, the old dog can learn but it requires a radical heart change and that is not always possible or wanted, but we should absolutely avoid absolutes and never say never because you just never know what the future holds. And I for one am glad for that. What a boring, and quite frankly depressing place we’d be living in if “never to be undone” was absolutely true.
This is why I’m sometimes disheartened by my profession, though. As Howard and Davis state, “the light hearted version of this attitude is the all-too-familiar question, “will this be on the exam?” the nuts-and-bolts version of is, “just tell us what you want and we will give it to you.” Even tougher, “if you don’t tell us what you want and how to deliver it, we’ll get our parents out after you […] in our terms, the students are searching for the relevant app.”
I want my students to learn, apply, explore and risk something to find and answer and not to regurgitate information or press a button and poof! But education perpetuates this app generation with the overabundance of “accountability”. After a while…a little bit of your soul just starts dying each time you have to sell it to the minds that should be brightened in your room, not dulled.
And it makes me so tired.
We’re about to enter the testing season and it’s suffocating. I always feel like I’ve been shoved down in a box and my task is to get out of the box, but there is a giant hand on the box and the only way I can get out is to push the box on its side—can you do that with a giant hand on top of the box?
Which is why I can’t believe that “never to be undone” is true.
If it is…I’m a part of creating this beast of a generation, unable to take risks and be creative and independent.
If I believe it’s “never to be undone”, I’ll be physically ill. I don’t have a choice about the amount of state testing or having to prepare students for this testing—but I still have autonomy in much of the curriculum and how I present it. I just hope we can, as a culture, see the value beyond just “technology and testing” and get back to the heart of what it means to connect to one another and not just to a device.
It can be undone, but we have to want to undo it.