Clearly the experiences these Re-Gens are having in school are also influencing the ideas they’re forming. And, although there are some encouraging signs of change, several major challenges stand out from my ongoing discussions with today’s 11-13 year olds.
A disconnect between the way school works and how they function outside school. In some ways, traditional schools operate in ways that are foreign to the world in which today’s students live. They inhabit a technology-based world of multi-media, addictive games, and mobile access, of asynchronous activities and anywhere, anytime capabilities. Schools are very different. For example, 13 to 15-year-olds in my research thus far average 50 texts a day with peers and parents, but most are required to communicate with teachers via email or in-person. I recently had an animated discussion with a group of academics regarding the desirability of changing their traditional approaches. Many argued that they were preparing the kids for the real world — limiting the Re-Gens’ use of “kids’” technology, teaching them to communicate the way adults do. I understand their perspective, but frankly find it short-sighted. We are not preparing these kids for the world as it operates today.