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The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future(Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30) Paperback – May 19 2009


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Tarcher (May 19 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1585427128
  • ISBN-13: 978-1585427123
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 1.9 x 21.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 340 g
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #102,733 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

Product Description

Review

"If you're the parent of someone under 20 and read only one non-fiction book this fall, make it this one. Bauerlein's simple but jarring thesis is that technology and the digital culture it has created are not broadening the horizon of the younger generation; they are narrowing it to a self-absorbed social universe that blocks out virtually everything else."
-Don Campbell, USA Today

"An urgent and pragmatic book on the very dark topic of the virtual end of reading among the young."
-Harold Bloom

"Never have American students had it so easy, and never have they achieved less. . . . Mr. Bauerlein delivers this bad news in a surprisingly brisk and engaging fashion, blowing holes in a lot of conventional educational wisdom."
-Charles McGrath, The New York Times

"It wouldn't be going too far to call this book the Why Johnny Can't Read for the digital age."
-Booklist

"Throughout The Dumbest Generation, there are . . . keen insights into how the new digital world really is changing the way young people engage with information and the obstacles they face in integrating any of it meaningfully. These are insights that educators, parents, and other adults ignore at their peril."
-Lee Drutman, Los Angeles Times
 

Review

"If you're the parent of someone under 20 and read only one non-fiction book this fall, make it this one. Bauerlein's simple but jarring thesis is that technology and the digital culture it has created are not broadening the horizon of the younger generation; they are narrowing it to a self-absorbed social universe that blocks out virtually everything else."
-Don Campbell, USA Today

"An urgent and pragmatic book on the very dark topic of the virtual end of reading among the young."
-Harold Bloom

"Never have American students had it so easy, and never have they achieved less. . . . Mr. Bauerlein delivers this bad news in a surprisingly brisk and engaging fashion, blowing holes in a lot of conventional educational wisdom."
-Charles McGrath, The New York Times

"It wouldn't be going too far to call this book the Why Johnny Can't Read for the digital age."
-Booklist

"Throughout The Dumbest Generation, there are . . . keen insights into how the new digital world really is changing the way young people engage with information and the obstacles they face in integrating any of it meaningfully. These are insights that educators, parents, and other adults ignore at their peril."
-Lee Drutman, Los Angeles Times

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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3.1 out of 5 stars

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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By grapemanca on Jan. 25 2010
Format: Paperback
The Dumbest Generation's central thesis is that the relatively new "Web 2.0" social technologies are creating an illiterate youth culture obsessed by triviality, pop culture and adolescent social life. It is an enjoyable pro-reading, anti-technology jeremiad in the tradition of Neil Postman (to whom Bauerlein pays homage), but it's not without its limitations.

Drawing on research from a number of government sources and reputable cultural institutions, Bauerlein's arguments can be both persuasive and problematic. For example, one of the best empirical studies he relies upon is a large-scale reading survey from the U.S. National Endowment for the Arts that measured leisure reading rates in 1982, 1992 and 2002. The rate (based on reading a single book outside of school or work) shows a precipitous drop of 17% in 18-24 year-olds (from 59.8% to 42.8%) between 1982 and 2002. This is certainly troubling, but Bauerlain glosses over the fact that leisure reading for 25-34 year-olds also declined (from 62.1% to 47.7%), as it did for 35-44 year-olds (from 59.7% to 46.6%). Moreover, this decline in leisure reading occurred BEFORE the wholesale adoption of the social computing technologies that Bauerlein believes is at the core of today's "dumbest generation". If anything, the best evidence he provides suggests that the big change in the 1970's - the spread of cable TV - has been the worst offender. [Speaking of out-of-date, one of the newest and biggest social networking fads, Facebook, is barely mentioned, whereas another service that has already receded, MySpace, features prominently in Bauerlein's analysis.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By C. Comeault on Jan. 20 2010
Format: Paperback
I have to disagree with the review that it seems like the book was written by a grouchy old man. As I was reading it, I felt like I was not the only one who experiences the lack of basic knowledge and initiative that seems so prevalent in young people. Now, one can argue that not all young people are like this, and this is true, there are always going to be young people who want to learn and love learning things, but what the author is saying is that generally young people exist in a rut where there are no influences except for their peers and it's hard to expand your horizons and your knowledge base when you spend all your time talking to, texting, instant messaging, etc. your peers. How can there be any time left to read a book? As parents, we have to insist that our kids put away the cell phone and get off Facebook and spend at least a little time doing something constructive.

I recently heard from my friend's daughter that only two people in her Grade 10 class knew who Helen Keller was. (She was one of them.) Really? I realize that knowledge of Helen Keller is not something that will cure cancer, but certainly knowing about her struggles and her triumphs in overcoming her disabilities is inspiring and is helpful to anyone who has dealt with adversity, and let's be honest, everyone who has ever lived has had to deal with some kind of adversity at some point in their lives.

I would also like to point out that what the author is saying is that kids today are not inherently stupid. We as adults are failing them by not encouraging them to spend time talking to and listening to people that are older than them. I learned so many things about the world over the dinner table growing up. How many families talk about things in the world?
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By E. Lalonde on July 16 2009
Format: Paperback
First of all, I will state that I HAVE read this book and don't believe that people who haven't read or completed this book should be posting here or elsewhere.

Mark Bauerlein's "The Dumbest Generation" or "Don't trust anyone under 30" is well-researched and well presented book about how the digital revolution has, contrary to widely-held beliefs, made the Digital Generation less ambitious, bright and intelligent. The author is perhaps on to something when he says that The Digital Generation; referred to with various alternative names such as the digital natives, the Rising Generation, Generation X and Twixters are largely self-absorbed, illiterate and uncultured.

Much of the book centers on how the new generation has rejected reading whole-heartedly for other activities such as social networking, video games and creating personalized works of art. While the author recognizes that video games may improve hand-eye coordination, they do nothing to further one's reading skills or to learn mathematical formulas, nor learn the works of the Great Masters. He recognizes that there is a slew of literature on the internet, but how most people scan websites in an "F" fashion and don't really read the content and if there is content worth reading, it is written at a sixth or eighth grade level. His exhaustive research is clearly visible as he presents literally hundreds of other works on both sides of the argument. The Dumbest Generation is also betrayed by their mentors, who are teachers, guidance counselors and educators who teach them to be all they can be without the challenges, intellectual rigor and effort that comes with self discovery.

Still though, there are some criticisms.
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