There is a gigantic article in today’s Times about secondary school students being distracted by technology. I have kids. I have students. Absolutely none of it was news to me. This part near the end, however, is at least very well spoken:
To Ms. Blondel, the exercise in group reading represents a regression in American education and an indictment of technology. The reason she has to do it, she says, is that students now lack the attention span to read the assignments on their own.
“How can you have a discussion in class?” she complains, arguing that she has seen a considerable change in recent years. In some classes she can count on little more than one-third of the students to read a 30-page homework assignment.
She adds: “You can’t become a good writer by watching YouTube, texting and e-mailing a bunch of abbreviations.”
As the group-reading effort winds down, she says gently: “I hope this will motivate you to read on your own.”
Those of us who teach at college really need to draw a line in the sand. Don’t read, don’t pass. And I’m not just talking about those of us who teach in the humanities. Anything else is a terrible disservice to the future job prospects of our students.