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May 29, 2008



I don't know. Bauerlein has written some pretty good essays and blog posts (you do follow his posts at the Chronicle's Brainstorm) about this issue. I think he has some legitimate claims about student's declining ability to read and critically process information. You might feel differently if you had to read and grade loads of poorly conceived and poorly written essays like he and lots of other faculty must. I think the danger is in generalizing. We have some great students and so do you.

Interesting to say we are in the inspiration business. I like to think we are in the learning business. I think the two can go together.


I’m sure he’s a nice guy and I’m sure it gets old reading poorly written papers, but is it fair to blame the web and television? What about K-12? I don’t think that attacking the kids and calling them dumb is a productive strategy.

Eric Jennings

Worth reading is a response to Bauerline's book in this week's Newsweek - "The Dumbest Generation? Don't be Dumb."


brian mathews

@ Bell
Oh and as a follow-up. My K-12 experience, especially the Florida years, was focused on prep for standardized tests—not so much about reading, writing, and critical thinking. Can you blame kids for lacking those skills with minimal exposure?

Facebook is not the problem.

Katie Clark

I love that - "the inspiration business"!

Asako Yoshida

What you stated in your Side Note is similar to what I think about our business. We are definitely not in information business. I think we are in learning business and inspiring students to learn for themselves is part of it.


Asako Yoshida

The intention of the professor to encourage students' learning and for students to do right things for their own education is the same as you do, probably. Just that the professor is so tied to the old technology and to the infrastructure and base structure of education strongly tied to print publications and authority. As a result, he comes across very elitist and conservative in his speech. He has a different assumption about where education will evolve and should evolve. In reality, I think we are somewhere in between and have to deal with the old political and social configurations we inherited. It's never black and white.


I have a daughter that is a Sophomore in HS. When I went to parent-teacher night in 8th grade, I asked a teacher why she was promoted from 7th to 8th when she wasn't at grade level. (I had recently had her independently tested.) I was told they promote all of the kids regardless of how well they do. Then they become the high schools problem. That is a direct quote I will never forget.

When I was in school if you didn't make the grade you were held back. Not anymore. It's our own fault that our education system at the primary level is so bad in this country. No Child Left Behind is making it worse.

Hi. I'm sort of with you, but I have to tell you. I read the book, I interviewed the guy and here's my post about it. http://www.foodshedplanet.com/2008/07/in-terms-of-collective-debate.html

I agree--the title of the book is bad and the angle is a little limited, but there's some truth in there. But, yes, I agree with one commenter who mentioned the education system's current fixation on teaching-to-the-test having far more to do with it than Facebook.

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