9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To: The Dumbest Generation - Wake up!!!
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...
Published on July 16 2009 by E. Lalonde
2.0 out of 5 stars Holds the Record for # of Derisive Snorts Produced in this Reader
There's an undercurrent of frustration running through Bauerlein's commentary on the wilful ignorance of today's youth culture. He's frustrated because "digital enthusiasts" keep stomping out traditionalist arguments with their annoying optimism. He anticipates that his detractors will label him as one of countless curmudgeonly traditionalists bemoaning Generation Y's...
Published 1 month ago by Saahy
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars To: The Dumbest Generation - Wake up!!!,
This review is from: The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future(Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30) (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. Like all authors pitching a certain message, the arguments can occasionally be a bit drawn-out and redundant. The author also seems quite pessimistic, and offers virtually no personal opinions on how to change things. For some arguments, other factors, such as the increase in the price of real estate and difficulty of saving for a down payment, might be factors for Twixters leaving the house later (p.170), rather than a change in generational world views.
In spite of its shortfalls, Bauerlein's book is well worth the read and offers some ideas as to why the young people of today seem to be lacking a certain Je ne sais quoi in terms of their sense de vivre. If you don't understand the terms in the last sentence, then you are, as the author would state, part of the "Dumbest Generation".
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Good Rant On An Important Topic,
This review is from: The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future(Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30) (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.]
Therefore, it appears to me that he is identifying a larger problem, one to which modern technology may contribute, but which is nevertheless deeper and longer-standing than Bauerlein contends. And since much of his empirical data is out-of-date in terms of relatively recent social technologies, he needs to rely on anecdotes and reasoning rather than statistics. On this level, I think Bauerlein actually succeeds. His discussions of reading versus screen time, adult vs. youth culture, and cultural literacy vs. pop literacy certainly ring true (though, again, I think larger forces are at work). As a long-time educator, I have to admit that his discussion of a growing anti-intellectualism certainly mirrors my own experience. I also think Bauerlein is absolutely correct that educators (esp. education researchers) share some of the blame as they jump on the technology bandwagon. Educators rarely seem to ask if adolescent enthusiasm necessarily leads to pedagogically desirable results.
Perhaps in time Bauerlein's contentions can be supported by more up-to-date, empirical evidence. In the meantime, his arguments are provocative and timely - as long as one casts a wary eye.
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive evidence that supports my experiences teaching adolescents,
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This review is from: The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future(Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30) (Paperback)I am very impressed with this book. As a high school Physics and Mathematics teacher, I have noticed an alarming decline in fundamental skills and intellectual curiosity in my students over the last ten years. The rhetoric expounding that technology and the Web promotes "problem-solving" and "higher-order thinking" in students has only become more strident in the last decade -- unfortunately, these outcomes have proven to be an illusion, as clearly demonstrated by the results of many esteemed surveys and skill tests referenced in Bauerlein's book. My experiences in the classroom have proven to me that "problem-solving" and "higher-order thinking" cannot occur without a mastery of the fundamentals of the discipline, and now, after reading this book, I understand why my students are lacking these prerequisite skills.
While the Web is indeed an amazing resource for those of us with an interest in history, civics, the arts and the sciences, the Web does not create that intellectual curiosity in adolescents. In fact, the data referenced in this book proves that teenagers use technology almost exclusively as a social networking tool, and the time spent in peer interaction is taken from pursuits that would actually benefit the intellectual growth of our youth. Even Bill Joy, cofounder of Sun Microsystems, is skeptical of the learning potential of blogging and games: "It sounds like it's a lot of encapsulated entertainment... This ... sounds like a gigantic waste of time. If I was competing with the United States, I would love to have the students I'm competing with spending their time on this kind of crap." Perhaps this explains why more than 50% of the engineering doctorates granted by American universities go to foreign students.
How ironic that, at a time when technological innovations lead the global economy, illiteracy and innumeracy are overtaking our youth as a direct result of using this technology.
By the way, to the reviewer who admittedly did not bother to read this book, yet proclaimed that it was a waste of money: sadly, you proved the author's point quite well.
I highly recommend this book to all educators and parents, and everyone who has an interest in nurturing the potential of our next generation.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book!,
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? How many families talk to each other any more? Kids are the losers in this and if we love our kids at all we have to change how we view youth and what we expect from them. Once we lose our culture and civic responsiblities by not passing them on, they will be irretrievable.
2.0 out of 5 stars Holds the Record for # of Derisive Snorts Produced in this Reader,
At one point, Bauerlein cites some stats from a 2002 survey, expecting us to share his horror at the fact that only 10% of 18-24 year-olds surveyed had attended a jazz performance. Because intelligence is measurable by an individual's ability to appreciate a good saxophone solo. Only 1 in 40 played a classical instrument, a clear sign that interest in the fine arts is waning. Playing the guitar (something every other high school student knows how to do) evidently doesn't count as engagement in the arts.
The studies Bauerlein cites(and there are a lot of them!) simply reiterate the same (incomplete) picture of today’s youth: they don't read as many books as their forbears, which translates into a paucity of historical awareness. I actually agree with this. But apart from this basic claim, most of Bauerlein's complaints are needless (or unintentionally ridiculous). For some reason, he keeps coming around to the fact that 20-somethings aren't subscribing to newspapers. He snarkily describes a time when he stopped in to the public library on the weekend and spotted only a handful of patrons in their teens and twenties. He bemoans the incorporation of computers in every university library, rolling his eyes at the popularity of the public computers, where he can only assume that those “cheery sophomores” are busy tapping out emails to their friends. How is this guy a professor and yet so woefully out of touch with how today’s students conduct research? Half of my library’s new holdings are only accessible in ebook form. The “stacks stand deserted and silent” because most of the sources I need just aren’t there anymore. Then there's this beauty: “They wrinkle their brows if offered a book about Congress, but can’t wait for the next version of Halo” (42). Oh geez. Does Bauerlein expect us to believe that his own generation would have received the same book on Congress with keen gratitude?
Bauerlein even admits that when he talks about this generation's dumbness, he's primarily gauging their “intellectual habits and repositories of knowledge” (33). Classical intellectual habits, that is (playing the cello and reading Tolstoy, basically) and traditional repositories of knowledge (# of dates in American history correctly identified, ability to appear erudite by integrating Shakespeare quotes into regular conversation).
I'm not convinced that Bauerlein isn't trolling us. His bombastic choice of title at least indicates as much.
The only reason I gave this book 2 stars instead of 1 is because his bibliography led me to some useful sources.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Complex problems NEVER have simplistic answers....,
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#1. Narcissism- The child-centered rearing practices of the past decades has led to a generation of young adults who have seldom heard the word "NO." and, instead, have been inundated with "Good Job!" or "You're Special!". The increase in rates of narcissism among our younger generation has sky-rocketed. While the author on page 192 briefly mentions this topic he, obviously, does not view it as being one of the driving factors behind this malaise. Our newly cloned narcissists feel that they are talented and smart no matter what the data may show, feel entitled to only the best that life can offer and rebel against anyone who stands, as an authority figure, against their grandiose delusions. The social networking that the author does define only reinforces this irrational behavior through the posting of personal web pages and hour-by-hour updates on Facebook. It's all about the "me".
#2. General US 'laziness'- Since the passing of the Great Depression and WWII, a great number of US citizens have taken our democratic life style for granted. Outside of a healthy uprising against the establishment in the late 60s and early 70s little, if any, progress has been made in the area of civil and human rights. We have almost developed an attitude of 'I've got mine, so you are on your own.' that was alien to life at an earlier era. The youth of today, have simply taken our model of selfishness to a a slightly greater height.
#3. Change of the family makeup- We are no longer a family of four where the husband works and the wife raises the children. Due to shrinking economic opportunities most families have two wage earners who arrive at home late at night and don't have the energy or time to spend with their children. This is not to fault the system we are in, it is merely meant to point out the differences from the times that the author seems to idolize. Today's parents too easily send their children to their bedrooms where they are surrounded with audio-visual stimulations instead of going for a picnic in the park or toss the ball around the back yard. The day can only be divided so many ways and can never be lengthened no matter how good the intentions.
#4. IQs are genetically formed- The number of high vs. low IQ students has not changed from past times. IQs are genetically determined and not fully a product of the environment they are thrust into. Granted, what they are learning may be quite different from what was learned decades past, but it is unfair to label this generation as being the 'dumbest'.
#5. Older generation has not kept up- To many of the older citizens, technology remains, at best, a mystery. Being so they allow the under twenty year olds to use this technology unaided and unsupervised. All of us owe it to the next generation to more fully understand the new technology such that we can more fully realize that most of what our children are doing on the internet has little to do with learning and a lot to do with simply 'wasting time and hanging-out'.
As I said previously, I too agree with the two factors that the author brings out in this text. I did not, however, appreciate his redundancy in the repetition of the same premises over and over again. It was more like going to a fundamental religious service that was poorly prepared than it was reading a well argued and thought provoking text. Lastly, his last chapter seems less like it belongs in a book with the title of "The Dumbest Generation" than it does in a book of essays on democracy. Yes, I, too, realize that we, as a country, are slipping into some dangerous habits. What we need are some ideas of how to stop the fall and not some Madison-like oratory that solves little or nothing at this point. Mr. Baurlein your ideas for this dilemma are found wanting.
7 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Scary dumb generation,
This review is from: The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future(Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30) (Hardcover)This is so very frightening. This slim book talks about the digital generation born between 1980 to mid 1990s. A generation that reads less and less every day and is off the mark by miles. And this know-nothing generation voted a know-nothing president into office this past November. It makes me very worried. Unless something is done with the public education, there's no way the future generations become any better either. Most teenagers and young adults I have talked to in the US or Canada are clueless morons. That frightens me beyond any thing else. This book is detailed with info, stats and surveys and it is gonna be very hard to deny the findings of this book. Indeed, the current structure of the mass media, public schools and education is helping this crisis become bigger and ever more scarier. This book is a must read for those who would like to understand how this know-nothing generation works, thinks and operates. Get it and read it!
(The 1 star reviewer here demonstrates how this stupid generation functions: He is reviewing a book he has not read and never will. This video game generation is too dumb to think. LoL)
3 of 8 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Boring does not equal learning,
I instead recommend The Narcissism Epidemic, a book that often overlaps with this one and that's much more readable.
8 of 24 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Misses the mark rather badly,
So, what of the youth of today? Well, I work in a library. Yeah, one of those book places. (That's how I got to try this book, mercifully without having to pay for it.) And I see bright, engaged (and engaging) young people there every single day. Every. Single. Day. Do I see the occasional stereotypical slacker or entitled little snot? Sure, but they're in the minority. And they've been around since man first stood upright. I see no evidence of this apparent catastrophic and wide-spread erosion of reading ability and critical thought that he alludes to. And I'm in a good place to have seen such evidence if there were any. Despite Mr. Bauerlein's protestations to the contrary, this really is nothing more than a "You damn kids get off my lawn!"-style rant.
And I'm 40 years old, therefore trustworthy and intelligent by the author's own standards.
9 of 54 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Do not buy,
This review is from: The Dumbest Generation: How the Digital Age Stupefies Young Americans and Jeopardizes Our Future(Or, Don't Trust Anyone Under 30) (Hardcover)I will start by saying that I have NOT read this book. So, what good is my review you may ask? Well, I am 32 years old, so according to the logic of the book, I am to be trusted.
I grew up using computers and playing video games. The reason that I am computer literate was that I needed to be in order to install and use video games on my computer twenty years ago. Even today, games make people comfortable with the technology and let people explore functionality without the fear. I am all for video games and think their use in education should be INCREASED.
Also, the author evidently does not understand the underlying premise of the Internet, which is to share information and broaden our horizons. If I want information about any subject, I can find it quickly and easily.
Lastly, the greatest generation was so great that we are mired in oil dependence, pollution and national debt. Bravo sirs! I am a student of the second world war and would certainly not want to diminish their contribution, but do not try to convince me one generation is any better than the other. We are certainly different though!
Take a minute, think for yourself and keep you wallet closed.
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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) by Mark Bauerlein (Paperback - May 19 2009)
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