Monday, May 12, 2014

Smart Phones & Robot People

Edudemic recently published the post "A Visual Guide to Slowing Down The Distracted Generation".  I really love that they are recognizing the fact that not only are we as a population not reading as much but that technology has a lot to do with the problem.  

Unfortunately, we have lost the ability as a population to just sit and be.  This is something that I talk with my students about quite regularly.  I'll ask them, "How often do you just sit without watching TV or checking your phone?  How often do you go on a walk and not listen to music?"

We have adapted this crazy lifestyle where we have to be entertained at all times.  And what's really upsetting is that we have lost the ability to entertain ourselves.

Edudemic suggests that we "create passion for the written word" and "make reading fun" among other things.  Is it really that easy to create passion in someone else?  

A question that teachers have been asking themselves for generations is: 

How do we create intrinsic motivation?

Unfortunately I'm not sure if we truly can create a long-lasting intrinsic motivation.  However, as a teacher I'm willing to go for it.  

In general, I would argue that this all starts with open conversation.  We need to talk to our students and children. Ask them what they like and why they like it.  It's not good enough to just ask our students about their passions.  We must get to the root of why their passions are their passions. Probing them to think deeper about what they like and why they like it.

Asking questions like the ones below will help us to better understand them:
  • What is it about ____ that you love so much?
  • Tell me more about that.
  • If you could describe your perfect day, what would it be?
  • Why is that so enjoyable to you?
By simply asking questions, we can develop a meta-cognitive behavior in our students.  If we get them thinking and questioning, they will soon be able to take risks in their passions.  Hopefully we can keep them away from having a "device in hand at all times, hopping from shiny thing to shiny thing on the internet" as Katie Lepi mentions that we all do.

As a teacher, I of course care that they are reading.  I care more about their thinking, though.  Yes, reading affects thinking abilities but if they're not thinking on their own already, what's the point of reading?

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