Recently, many State governed schools have taken steps to remove books and information from the curriculum here in the United States. Some have even gone to the lengths of book-burning as if in today’s age of ubiquitous access to information, students will not be exposed to whatever they want to exclude.
Now, this same book-burning mentality has fixated on technology in schools, with demands that educators go back to the traditional teaching methods, which by their definition would exclude the use of technology such as the Internet to discover answers and information.
The generation gap, defined as the difference in values and attitudes between one generation and another, has now taken on technology as yet another element. This addition has resulted in a more significant division and a widening of the gap between the generations.
This desire to stop fundamental changes and retain the current or past generations’ ways is nothing new and is part of a cycle. All of us who are capable have helped friends and family, who have chosen not to embrace the changes in technology. Sometimes it is as simple as correcting an issue with their smartphone or setup an email app. In the not too distant past, it was fixing the flashing time on their VCR when VCRs were a thing. For those of you who are too young to know, the Video Cassette Recorder was something used to record Television shows on magnetic tape that people called programs, which were broadcast at a specific time so that you could watch them at a future time. Very strange, right? But back then, if you missed the broadcast, you had no other option but to wait for the TV network to rerun it as what they called a “Repeat” in the off-season. The off-season was the time between new program releases. Keep in mind that NetFlix’s was not a streaming network at this time in history but a VCR tape rental company. Another thing worthy of mention was something called a TV Guide, it was a weekly paper magazine you might purchase, it provided the TV schedule for that week.
VCRs were like toasters from about 1970 to the early 2000s; everybody had one, even if they didn’t use it. By the early 2000s, Digital Video Recorder (DVR) arrived on the scene with superior image quality, and except for the upfront cost, there was no need to buy VHS tapes. At about the same time, the Digital Video Disk came along, ending the VHS completely. Only ten years later, about 2010, Video Streaming came along, giving rise to NetFlix’s, which spelled the end for both the DVD and DVR. The arrival of Streaming services looks to have finally killed off the Cable TV industry.
The rapid changes in technology have forced compression of the time between generation gaps, causing distress for many in society. In today’s world, many in society are trying to hold on to what makes them feel comfortable, but just as they get used to one reality, they find that comfort zone slipping out of reach.
It is no surprise that parents and educators are struggling to keep pace and adjust to the ever-changing landscape of social norms and practices. Unfortunately, for many, the natural reaction is to fight against the changes going on around them, defining all things different as wrong, evil, unacceptable, or immoral, simply because, in their mind, it is a bridge too far. There is always one more change in an ever rapidly changing world.
Unless there is a societally collapse, the rate of change will continue to accelerate, and there is no going back. We must ensure that the next generation, who are already immersed in technology, who know nothing about having to sit down in front of the TV at a set time watch a Television, are prepared to embrace a life of continuous change.
Educators and Parents must adapt to the changing world that students are growing up in today. The advancements in technology, availability, and access to information, further highlights the need for Educators to focus on teaching critical thinking to their students. Students need to know how to test the knowledge imparted to them, be it from a Teacher or Online Search. In a learning environment, it is healthy, and should be encouraged, the premise; except nothing, question everything, as long as the method and processing of questioning are fundamental, the answers will be made self-evident by the process.
We cannot pretend that young people will not be exposed to these technologies, we must instead embrace the future and focus on teaching them to be better users of the tools in their world, or we risk subjecting them to a future where they cannot discern fact from fiction.