October 22, 2015

Cell phones or textbooks: Guess which one is more popular


No matter how cliche this may sound let’s begin by saying, life is what you make of it. Everyone has their own choice; at least you do here, safely in America. Decisions are made every day whether you like it or not, correctly, or incorrectly. The same principle applies to the decisions you’ve made as an adolescent. Some would say, “We can’t make decisions and claim accountability for them as children.” Some however, would firmly disagree.  We make choices every day, just like we made decisions in our youth. Where is this going you ask? Well, our decisions made throughout our adolescence go hand in hand with our educational system.

Somewhere, in some middle school, in some math class, a teachers asks the class what the answer to number whatever is. A few hands raise in excitement, while most sit in silence. The teacher acknowledges the swinging hands, blank faces, and also the number of students seemingly looking down at their laps – which ultimately turns out to be their cell phones. This is the unfortunate case today, even more so on the most immediate generation.

Outside pressure is put on these students to be as popular as they’re able to be within the social hierarchy. This pressure, along with immediate access to the updates of their success and failures displayed for everyone to see on Facebook and other sources of social media may make for a tremendous struggle, especially for individuals so young and vulnerable. This, for most people, becomes the prime directive. The teacher may take the correct corrective action against the distraction, but the issue doesn’t seem to stop. As of two years ago, the United States ranks 31st in Math, 24th in science, and 21st in reading according to a recent study done by the OECD. Do you see the problem here? Interferences are everywhere.

There are differences amongst age groups, naturally. The younger we are, the ability to make thought out decisions is somewhat inhibited. The years following our childhood should be enriched with unforeseen wisdom and insight as to what life’s really all about, as it once was. Outside guidance and help from our peers at one time believe it or not, was the norm in terms of growing into a young adult. Nowadays, there seems to be something of a “dumbing down” effect taking hold of generations beneath our own.

There seems to be a fine line between being humanistic in nature, and being connected in the loop. The emphasis of materialism and social media is so oversaturated, that it’s become sickening.  Of course there are a few flowers in a field of withered remains; those who take incredible care of their education. But more times than not, the most of  us  are either sucked in on our laptops or entrenched in our cell phones.

Sadly, amongst this calamity, are unfit teachers who are distributed to the lowest ranking schools, enhancing the snowballing effect. If you place an underperforming teacher with an underperforming class, the outcome seems pretty dismal at best. It seems as if the process needs to be turned upside down.

We’ve all seen the movies. Nice, innocent teacher gets shifted to some new venue of unnaturalness, and the teacher miraculously turns the class around. That wouldn’t quite work in actuality, but with a lot more dedication and reality, we would expect far better results in educating our youth.

Having constant access to social media and whatever’s mainstream is causing what some would call “The Great Distraction” of the next generation. Immediate access to mainstream media is convincing younger generations to “grow up” faster, and the continuous and inexcusable feeding of social media (which enforces it), is no help.

How powerful is the temptation to look at your phone during class, or work?  Now think of this same temptation for the likes of a middle schooler. It’s something anthropologists call a Developmental Adaption. The brain becomes rewired to crave immediate satisfaction or gratification, that after time passes, it evolves to an addiction of sorts. Seriously, the next time you find yourself with some free time, measure the intervals between paying attention to your surroundings and having to dive into your phone.  You’ll be surprised by the amount of attachment issues that are quick to follow.

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