kitchen table math, the sequel: Current events in the Internet Age

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Current events in the Internet Age

Last week when a eighth-grade English teacher at our local middle school asked his class if anyone knew what was going on in Egypt, only three students raised their hands.  This was reported to me by a student in the class.

This in the "Internet Age".  I'm unsure if I'm surprised or not.  Wait. . . . I'm not surprised.

Related:
"Who is this guy, Al Qaeda?"

ADDED:  US clueless about Egypt?
A senate hearing Wednesday revealed that top US intelligence agencies are largely ignorant about the current situation in Egypt and unfamiliar with the agenda of the country’s radical Islamists. 
(Cross posted at Education Quick Takes)

18 comments:

MagisterGreen said...

Little nuggets like this are always amusing but that amusement is usually tempered by what I imagine apologists for this kind of general ignorance about the world at large might say; i.e. that so long as the kids know how to find information like this it's less important that they actually know the information.

Theoretically the ability to use Google trumps actual knowledge. But then I'm a cynic by nature. Heh.

momof4 said...

I attended a small-town school in the 50s-60s and every grade had a current events area of the bulletin board and it was updated at least weekly. Kids were also encouraged to bring in news items on a regular basis. Something like the government upsets in North Africa would have been updated and discussed more often and national elections/campaigns were always followed, as were the Viet Nam War and the Civil Rights movement. I remember teachers expecting us to listen to presidential debates on the radio (many of us didn't have TV in 1960) and being expected to discuss them the next day; that was for 5th grade and above. Posted articles also included science/technology news (DNA, space program etc.). Today's kids should be required to do the same; being informed should be explictly taught as a civic duty.

Obi-Wandreas, The Funky Viking said...

The ability to find information trumps an individual piece of information. It is itself, however, trumped by the ability to analyze and judge information. This ability requires a breadth and depth of prior knowledge.

This is why constructivist-type education fails. One cannot teach problem-solving or higher-order thinking without have a wealth of background knowledge to call upon.

momof4 said...

The fact that torrents of information is easily and immediately available is trumped by the fact that the kids have no apparent interest in accessing it. All about me, all the time...

Grace Nunez said...

In this instance, I hold the parents mainly responsible for not encouraging or requiring their kids to stay informed about current events. I do believe that schools have a role in doing the same, as described by momof4. But I can't complain too much, since I've also complained about history classes focusing too much on current events at the expense of historical ones.

Grace Nunez said...

Clearly, the time most students are spending on the Internet is not being spent reading the news.

Anonymous said...

In other news: Water is wet...

Anonymous said...

oh I'm sure they do know all about Justin Bieber's latest work and what Kim Kardashian is wearing. Every single detail.

ari-free

Jennifer said...

This reminds me of Michael Clay Thompson's excellent satirical essay, "The Brain is its own Curriculum." He concludes, "In fact, why should gifted students fritter away their intellectual lives at a computer terminal at all, when they could be resting their higher-level brains by sleeping late, and watching stimulating talk shows about real-world concerns, in the comfort of their own couch, with a grape soda and a bag of Dwinkies to munch on.

All learning is obsolete."

Why bother with school at all, when only the ability to find information, but not the ability to understand the information or the curiosity to drive the search is important.

Grace Nunez said...

I just added to the post how the US showed its ignorance about Egypt duirng the recent senate hearing. So, I really cannot blame the kids.

SteveH said...

If they watch SNL, they would know about the search for the notorious Hous Bin Pharteen and his brother I-Bin Pharteen.

Bonnie said...

It wasn't much different when I was in junior high (which is what we called it back then). There was a kid that I knew well who had lived in Egypt for a while and the other kids were completely baffled at the idea that Egypt was Muslim. They seemed to think that Egyptians still worshiped cats. Americans have never held a lot of interest in other countries.
Jay Matthews had a column the other day titled "The Myth of Declining U.S. Schools - They've Long Been Mediocre"

Grace Nunez said...

Yeah Bonnie, but now we have the INTERNET, so things should be DIFFERENT and BETTER. ;)

Grace Nunez said...

Slow on the uptake, I just got Steve's joke. I was about to Google those names!

SteveH said...

The sketch is one of their best and is online. It's with Robert DeNiro.

Bonnie said...

We had encyclopedias back then, which were misused in pretty much the same way that the Internet is used today. I always remember kids doing "research papers" by simply copying verbatim from the encyclopedia entry

Lisa said...

Maybe if someone had texted them the news?

Catherine Johnson said...

Haven't read all the comments, so it may be here already --- do you guys all know Ambrose Bierce's great line about war being God's way of teaching Americans about geography?

(True for me -- !)