Are Teenagers the Dumbest Generation Ever?
This notion generally tends to apply itself to every possible idea, whether tangible or abstract, and continuously evokes the question of whose moral standpoint, whether based on intellect, or on intuition, is truly correct.
Similarly, it is clear that in today’s era time’s law of change has created a schism between two generations with polar personal influences, ideologies, foundations for principles, and moral standpoints so substantial that it induces controversy, and a sense of apprehension as one tries to compensate for the misdemeanors of the other. A schism of such magnitude between two generations forced to live together has inevitably brought about the butting of heads, most scandalously through the pervasive media that reaches everyone who is in direct contact with immediate society.
Dr. Mark Bauerlein, author of The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future; Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30 and professor at Emory University, kindles the flame that is the battle between generations; however, it is vital to consider that the fire had already been there, and Bauerlein, a strict believer in one of the opposing sides, had fed the fire gasoline. Of course, with tendentious media such as this, society is forced to respond; who is in the right? Who is left to blame?
Does Bauerlein perhaps make a valid point, or is he entirely mistaken in his judgement of a technology-controlled generation? Is it presumptuous to assume that this preoccupation with social medias can be construed as stupidity, or is it entirely valid in its claim that teenagers have lost the susceptibility and ravenousness for knowledge that had been present in generations that preceded them? It is a heavily biased discussion often based on generalization, where both sides need a prospect for thorough review to be able to make a point that upholds validity, not just from opinion, but from fact.
Bauerlein’s book elicited an uproarious response from the public, thus we are able to observe and analyze a contentious argument for either side, both of whom present valid points. Susan Jacoby, author of The Age of American Unreason, claims, “The scales of American history have shifted heavily against the intellectual life so essential to functional democracy. ” Like Jacoby, many intellectuals of the previous generation share the paralyzing trepidation hat perhaps this new concentration of leaders and lost the provocative taste for learning and cultural strive like that of their predecessors, labeling superficial concepts like popular culture “vacuous” and “disturbing,” as well as using them as a definitive label of the generation that takes part in such a nondescript and mercurial part of society. Now there is a point to consider. How can one definitively label such a thing as popular culture? Generally, the concept is regarded as something that, by nature, is vacuous.
It holds no validity in society other than its possibility to provide a certain juncture of mindless recreation. One must contemplate the feasibility of such a popular culture, especially among the younger generation; popular culture often provides an escape from the hardships of life. Teenagers today are among the most stressed that they have been for years, and, as a source of relief, they turn to asinine behavioral patterns to relieve the tension; albeit, the reliever acts as more of a numbing sensation rather than reliever, but a coping method nonetheless.
Popular culture is also among one of the most capricious factors in society, for what is popular today, may just be a completely irrelevant part of society the very next day. Like all adolescents, the particular concentrated group in question possess tendencies towards fallacious behavior that may give off the impression of unintelligence, or recalcitrant characteristics, but, in reality, are simply mistakes that are better understood as phases, or the conclusion of an experiment with no prior experience. Discerning that fact the topic at hand is, in fact, “popular” culture, there is an uneasy conclusion that occurs.
The popularity of such media would not have risen to such a point of celebration and idolatry if it did not have a supporting base to catapult it to such extremities. The logical conclusion leads one to assume that, if the popular culture delineates a lack of ideals and does not accurately display “useful” subjects, then perhaps the audience for which it is intended possesses the same regard for inane media, and a disregard for more functional and beneficial knowledge of the society of which they are a part.
The popular media of previous generations did not include vapid concepts such as “reality television” or “gameshows”, but rather the cultural media that, to this day, remains a classic reminder of “better” days. The discussion of the topic of reading for pleasure is also discussed, and, yet again, there is an uneasy conclusion that must be faced, as Cheryl Wetzstein says in her article, “As a lifelong, insatiable reader, I share Mr. Bauerlein’s alarm about the peculiar reading habits of American youth. I also share his concern that the next generation doesn’t seem to value having a ‘contemplative mind. ”
The continuous rise in lack of reading for pleasure is intimidating. It raises a pressing question: how can the source of entertainment for over thousands of years suddenly be regarded with such disdain and disapproval from the generation that seems to need it the most? The obvious answer is, of course, negative. The desensitization of the key factors in the strive for educational success has taken a toll on the ability of the average teenager to participate in studious and intellectual activities, among which is reading.
It is an disturbing revelation to assume that the only source that this general detachment from traditional entertainment can stem is, in fact, one of the greatest achievements of our time: our technology. The constant social connection that is present has caused a tremendous shift in personal interests. As stated by a host during an interview with the audacious author of The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future; Or, Don’t Trust Anyone Under 30, “Well a new book proclaims, don’t trust anyone under 30.
The point being… (Whispering) They’re not that bright. Shhh, don’t want to hurt their self-esteem. ” What was once a society based on the hunger for knowledge, and the correlation of knowledge to power, is now civilization based on narcissistic ideals; consequently, personal interests seem to conquer all. The explosion of social media has only been provoking such a lifestyle, and the inflammatory nature of the single most consuming object in a teenager’s life is only the beginning of the state that I have personally come to acknowledge as “technology-induced stupor”.
The availability and widespread nature of one of the most riveting, yet poisonous concoctions of our time has taken a devastating toll on those that seem to be most intertwined in it. As technology develops into bigger (or perhaps smaller, because the handheld nature of a supercomputer), and better, the narcissistic complexes continue to increase, and, rather than taking part of the world that is around them, a world simply plagued with political, cultural and economic issues, they choose to partake in their own social network. However, perhaps this is presumptuous.
It is possible to acknowledge this disinterest with archaic ideologies as a form of heavily progressive behavior, fixated on dispelling the past, and creating a more impressive future. It could simply be a form of eliminating tradition, and acting as the pioneers to bring forth an era that disregards the obsolete methods of obtaining knowledge of the past. In every era, there is a concentrated group of revolutionists that rises up against the historical convention, innovates a new form of progress, all the while stirring up controversy.
Change is very seldom easily accepted. Even then, every generation would consider its heir as the “dumbest generation ever,” when, in reality, they brought about a change so beautiful, so enormous, that they changed the course of history. And perhaps that is our role, but, realistically, could this possibly be the case? Yet, one must question this idea that the inquisitiveness that was once present among the predecessors of this generation, does not seem to be available any longer.
Keen minds are subject to the natural erosion and exacerbation of their memories and abilities to think comprehensively and logically that occurs with the exposure to today’s social medias and their detrimental effects. The Ottawa Citizen, in his article “Is This the Dumbest Generation Ever? ”, presents a point that does stir the validity of a certain discretion, “… it’s hard to keep up any of those interests if you’re a young person in this digital age, Mr. Bauerlein says.
Constantly hooked up, via e-mail and social networking sites and IM connectivity, to their peers, they view life as nothing but an extended school cafeteria conversation. And in such conversation, what counts as important? Why the Roman Empire fell? The lives and political thoughts of great presidents? Flaws in the U. S. Constitution? The geography of Europe? Hardly. ” The statement takes on a position of radical hubris that, in turn, demeans the generation, yet it holds truth.
Teenagers truly do not seem to care about the education curriculum, and their immense apathy is displayed through morose test scores, and a complete insufficiency of curiosity. Their absorption is withheld mainly by their exploitation of current technological advances. Mark Bauerlein states in his article, (“THE KIDS ARE IDIOTS”), “It doesn’t make sense, but the evidence is incontrovertible. Young people are tracking a course into ignorance and lassitude. ” On the contrary, the descent into inevitable stupidity doesn’t seem to be arbitrary.
Through a conclusive effort, the weakened educational system, the over lack of interest and cooperation of teenagers, and the proliferating extent of the educational curve that has been influenced by technology’s grandiose privileges has led this concentrated group off into an oblivion of educational ignorance. Outside life and personal intellectual habits are one thing, but it is vital that we also analyze the role of the educational system, and what kind of tolls it takes on the individual, or whether it takes tolls at all. E. D.
Hirsch, Jr states in his article “Prelude to Excellence”, “The real problem is that these young men and women, through no fault of their own, are showing up on campuses undereducated and unprepared for college-level work. They should have received a good general education before they arrived on campus. ” A generally affable statement, seeing that the role of a “good university” is to enrich and enlighten those particular students that seek to excel and fit the standard of prestige and academic prevalence that a higher education is set to provide.
It is not the fault of the university that the primary and secondary education of the majority of students was not acceptable enough to be recognized as prestigious by a university. A student’s hunger for knowledge must be clear and discerned, and their academic excellence derives from their own means of education rather than dependency on a failing educational system. After all, it is not the priority or occupation of the university to ensure the excellence of other schooling for their purpose is higher education for those who deserve it.
Hirsch continues to defend his position, “To be full participants in our cultural life and democratic institutions, every citizen needs a sound and broad education. But we are pushing this problem in exactly the wrong direction. It is not the job of our colleges and universities to make up for the shoddy education offered by K-12 schools. It is the job of those schools to ensure they produce future undergraduates who are fully prepared to do college-level work. ” But why not?
It is unfair to directly surmise that just because the student has not been learning under a proper didactic method through their previous schooling that they completely lack the capacity to learn at all. Just like it is not up to the universities to ensure the quality of education of preliminary schooling, it is by no means the responsibility of the student either. How could it be possible to receive a quality education that is fit for the standards of a prestigious university when it is simply not available to the students? Such a qualification in the educational system presents a gap, and a looming, overbearing question: Who is at fault?
We must, of course, recognize that either side is flawed. They are both institutions that are originated on a flawed foundation, and cannot attest to the fallacies of their creators. Parent, former student, and a member of the previous “baby boomer” generation, Yan Smuglin, claims, “Students are simply lacking the physical means that are needed to properly display their talents. Each of these teenagers are individuals, and, despite their total consummation with frivolous objects such as computers, cellphones, televisions, and gaming systems, they are very capable, seeing that the human psyche is flexible, and always sharp.
Perhaps this one generation might have caused a dulling of this sharpness, but it cannot simply disappear after millennia of knowledgeable humanity. But I do have faith that these youngsters could grow up, and revolutionize our ideals. ” There is also the pressing matter as to what labels this generation as unintelligent. The mechanical assumption is to attribute such a statistic or belief to the results of standardized tests; however, how can this be an accurate representation of the individual’s idiosyncratic intelligence? Cheryl Wetzstein states, “Members of Generation Y — those born from 1982 to 2000 — have mediocre scores in U.
S. and international academic surveys, he told the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research (AEI) event. ” What most people tend to forget is that the core basis of this entire generation is the range of diversity that it withholds. We are all individuals with personal attributes that range from artistic, to technological, to educational, to perhaps even a aptitude in rhetoric with a knack for charisma. The standardized testing takes us, as a generation, by the very depths of our inner workings, and simply wrenches our ideals into insignificant notions that are deemed irrelevant by society.
The SAT, for example, although it facilitates the success for a select group of students, erases the face of the individual that is taking it. Supposedly this presents an equal opportunity for each person to display the very best of their abilities, but how is it possible to display the best of someone’s abilities if they do not fall under the category of a math/verbal test? Perhaps the dismal scores of standardized testing is not necessarily attributed to a lack of intelligence, but rather a lack of confidence, and the vacancy that incites itself when a person’s individuality is tampered with and disheartened.
Also, it is plausible to consider that the inner workings of the minds of students are simply straying elsewhere rather than focusing on a conventional, watered-down curriculum that does not provide the bona fide educational stimulation that the student seeks to attain, thus leading to the massive “slacking-off. ” Despite the exceptionally obvious narcissism that has surfaced in the youth of today’s society, there is cogency in the idea that topics have been “dumbed down”. Our visual source shows an elderly man examining how to dumb down the education.
But one has to question, is it truly because the students do not contain the capacity to truly understand the curriculum or because universities and high schools deem students incapable, and underestimate the work ethic and perseverance of their students? There is an opposing altercation, of course. Standardized testing is just that: standardized. It quite literally levels the entire playing field so that each student has the equal opportunity to shine. Standardized testing remains the same year after year, becoming easier with each try if anything.
It allows the student to understand that if the material is the same every year then they have the heads-up, the “head start. ” The test do not change, yet the results are progressively worse year after year. It is a pressing matter that can only lead to the conclusion that it is in fact the faults of the students, especially when the internet provides “wealth of information,” as Bauerlein had referred to it in “Is This the Dumbest Generation EVER? ” (The Ottawa Citizen), that can prepare them almost as proficiently as their teachers.
But, of course, these spurting lushes of knowledge are ignored and forgotten about, as the desensitized teenager has a devotion to the social networking site that he or she spends a plethora of time on, time that could be used to further educate oneself about the issues of the world, or the political matters that affect each and every single person that is living around them. The bias on such an argument tends to be tremendously heavy, seeing that the discussion involves two equally vicious generations of society that uphold their personal values, as all humans do.
The conclusion to such a contentious issue would be a rather fascinating climax, but it is very clear that such an event will most likely not occur. The reconciliation between generations seldom materializes at the times when the questions are most pressing, and then the younger, bitter generation continues the roundabout chain of supposedly warranted name-calling. Questions will be long unanswered: statistics will only deface the individuality of humanity, while going on intuition cannot prove anything and leave a world of decisions and justifications defined by opinion and generalization.
Thus, as humans, our natural inclination towards the advocation of our unique opinions has a propensity to overcome the notions of reconciliation, whether it is a concept about who is the “better” generation, or perhaps how the education system is affecting us as a whole, but it is only our individuality that leads us attribute to our own cause. We are left to consider if this is, in fact, a concrete, factual inevitability of the nature of humans, or if it is something that can, in due course, be surpassed, and, in the true essence of humanity, challenge tradition for all it is worth.