That’s a student quote educational technology consultant Marc Prensky mentions in his article, “On Being Disrespected,” published in the October 2006 edition of “Educational Leadership.” It’s a pretty good way to illustrate the generational “digital divide” N. Katherine Hayles references in “Hyper and Deep Attention: The Generational Divide in Cognitive Modes.”
Prensky illustrates some of the cultural attitudes occurring between generations in regards to technology as well as emerging educational approaches. Older generations demonstrate a lack of respect toward the educational benefits to digital devices and media -- especially video games.
“One high school student reported to me that his parents told him, ‘Your computer games are a total waste of your time, money, and brain cells.’ Given that this student spends a lot of time playing these games, which are often more challenging than his schoolwork, and that he is proud of succeeding at them, this comment reflects enormous disrespect. The kid was pretty hurt by it.”
On the other hand, Prensky also references a type of “digital elitism” reflected by younger generations toward adults. He states that many students see their teachers as being digitally illiterate – “and they disrespect them for it.”
Prensky – author of the 2001 book “Digital Game-Based Learning,” and the 2005 book “Don’t Bother Me Mom – I’m Learning!” – travels around the world talking to educators about how to address the generational divide in classrooms in regards to the use of technology in schools.
While Hayles examines “Generation M,” Prensky explores the cultural and pedagogical differences between “Digital Natives” and “Digital Immigrants”
Today’s students are “natives” who were born in this digital age while their teachers – like immigrants who physically and geographically leave one world behind and inhabit a new society that requires them to learn a new language and practice new customs. Prensky says "Digital Immigrants" posses a type of “accent,” that is “their foot in the past.” For example, he points out that one “accent” is how Digital Immigrants print out emails and find comfort in creating “paper trails” of their digital documents.
During the first decade of the 21st Century, educators who are Digital Immigrants have been resistant to integrate technology into their teaching strategies, let alone transition from “deep attention” approaches to “hyper-attention” techniques.
These “old school teachers” internalize their educational style and insist that traditional instructional methods that worked for them should be good enough for the students they teach. However, their stubbornness toward embracing digital strategies an emerging technology out of principle and respect for traditional approaches more than likely masks their insecurities regarding their “digital illiteracy.”
Schools are throwing dynamic hardware into classrooms in order to tangibly demonstrates to parents that students are being exposed to 21st century technology. Teachers – on the other hand – are not being taught how to integrate these tools into their teaching strategies. Professional development covers how to “turn it on and off,” and then teachers are expected to go out and “use the stuff.” No time is spent exploring educational features and benefits as well as the diverse approaches that can be developed through these new devices.
Perhaps one of the best ways to help bridge the generational divide in cogitative modes between teachers (Digital Immigrants) and their students (Digital Natives) would be for districts to develop professional development programs for teachers that embrace 21st Century instructional strategies that focus on “hyper-attention.” As it stands in most cases, traditional instructional strategies are being used to show teachers how to use emerging technology. It should be a digitally immersive program that abandons the classroom environment and integrates multi-media, social media and networking, game-based instruction structures as well as other types of distance learning strategies.