Don’t impose yesterday’s standards on tomorrow’s children.

Do you ever get those moments when something pops into your head that is just so intuitively obvious you wonder why you never considered it before?

I was thinking about the generational differences between students – that is, how students and learning today differ from when I was growing up, and how it differed for my generation from my parents’, and so on. I was thinking about this because once again I was chatting with a parent who was of the opinion that “what was good for me in school should be good for my kids”.

I started thinking about the differences between today’s students and students from when I was growing up, namely ready access to information, an expectation of instant answers, and easily available on-demand stimulation in the form of videos, movies and video games. And all of this is accepted as perfectly normal. And then I thought about why these wonders are readily available to today’s sudents, and I realized, duh, it’s because we gave it to them.

So now we have people from my generation suggesting today’s students should learn like they did, because it was good enough for them. We should take away their digital stimulants and cheating lookup tools and make them sit down and learn from books. But it was us, my generation, that gave them those tools. So really, how dare we. How dare we provide these wonders and then yank them away and insist they not be used.

It is valid to argue that students should know how to work without them. Students should know how best to tackle the world with whatever tools they have at hand. Personally, I think everyone should know wilderness survival skills too, but that doesn’t mean students should be deprived of all tools all the time. After all, when do we work without them? Think about it – we work with far more technology now than we ever had at our disposal three decades ago. Today’s students will have tools in five years that we can’t even dream of. So to suggest that students need to always function without digital tools because “they won’t always have them” is absurd.

How about instead we teach them how to use those tools properly. Or better yet, stop imposing our outdated opinions of how a completely new generation should learn, and let them learn how they learn best.


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