Monday, August 22, 2011

Generational Ecology and the Influence of Technology

The educational road begins with early learning as a foundation to pave the way for further progress of our society in its entirety. I believe somewhere along the way, this ideal has been tossed to the shoulder like a McFlurry container you can drive by down 1-5 near Sacramento. This ideal is now rotting and will soon dissolve into the rubble with which it was thrown. However, there is an element of hope. What today's generation needs is equatable to the proverbial court ordered inmate with one of those jabbers on the side of the freeway. But, you see, this type of community service won't be sticking it to trash. Rather, searching through the next generations litter to find the turnaround in regards to intellectual ambition. I hope to be one of these "inmates"... but my outfit will be way cuter. So, I have just recently started working toward my A.S. in Early Childhood Education. The following is a discussion topic my class and I were given on the Ecology of Childhood:

To look back and review the technological evolution that has developed over the past 50 years is truly overpowering. Today, technology is literally right around every corner and in the pocket of most the people we pass on the street. The innovations of the internet and cell phone and, more recently, the combination of both are just slivers of the technological changes that have occurred over the years.

The gap between generations is widening due primarily to these leaps in technological conformity. The number of those in contemporary society that do not have an X-Box or iPod are overwhelmingly slim, when looking back at the childhood of our grandparents... they had a radio. That's it. Our parents were lucky enough to score the generation where an 8-track player and an Atari game system meant you were living in the lap of luxury, speaking in terms of entertainment.

The accessibility to knowledge and education alone has affected the present generations viewpoint on the importance of school, career, and general aspiration. "Convenience breeds apathy." Apathy to what the aspirations of the previous generations consisted of: the golden rule, for starters, and the simplicity of wanting to learn in order to be qualified for that stable job to take care of a family. Presently, Google (and all the answers therein) is literally at the fingertips of anyone with a Droid phone. This being a reality, there is no concept of paying attention in school anymore. "What's the point?" screams today's generation.

The societal changes over the past generation of our grandparents and parents, I believe, run directly parallel to the technological revolution. As the slope of technology steepened on the proverbial generational graph as time marched forward, the periods in which the families, schools, and communities were affected are all different but very much the same.

Families are no longer connected the way they were before computerization managed our lives. For instance, the dinner table in generations past was the epicenter of the value of one’s family unit. Families would actually speak to each other as opposed to hitting “like” on their father’s latest facebook status. “I ‘like’ having dinner with my family.” Send. Not the same! Not so long ago, communities actually formed together for rallies or picketed for a common belief. But today, the majority of activists vote online with an electronic signature through a website designed to take a stand against or for whatever the commoner fights for these days. A right to low low prices and imported coffee beans? Who knows. As technology soared over the years, our society in general has involuntarily learned to take for granted just how easy it is to live in modern time.

In the days of even our parents, but emphasizing the age bracket of our grandparents, the values that characterize each generation has slowly depleted into what we're left with today. If we look back at what our grandparents belief system represented it may be closer to that of what our parents were instilled with but there is an unmistakable gap between what our parents were taught and what has been transferred into the next generation.

For instance, when my grandpa spoke out of turn to my great grandmother he got punished—and it wasn’t time out. Not that I agree with this form of disciplinary tactic, but it does stand to reason that this may be why my grandfather, and his peers, expects and gives respect as though it were innate. As we move forth down the timeline, my mother was raised by my grandfather and she rebelled as though it were going out of style. My grandfather couldn’t control her so she was emancipated at sixteen years old. Why didn’t he use the same method his Mom had used on him? Generational differences is what it all boils down to. Generational differences brought on by environmental influences that directly coincide with the authority of specific and modern collective norms. There has long since been the debate over nature vs. nurture and this just goes to show the latter takes this one.

This brings me to the present generation and the values that are represented by today’s shared outlook on what is to be expected of our youth. There is a dire lack of motivation towards education among the populace of adolescents. Technological advancement has bred the sense that the next generation is essentially teaching themselves—the blind are leading the blind. If this is, in fact, the case I wonder if teachers can team up with the AT&T corporation and develop an Ambition App to provide the youth of today’s modern teens with the sense to be excited about learning again. As farfetched and comical as this hypothetical option may be, nothing is as out of reach as it seems. If you don’t believe me, I bet there’s an article on Wikipedia.

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