I walked into our high school computer lab today while students were using a website called Career Cruising to browse through their college and career options. Here are some of the things I overheard:
“Man, I don’t want to learn a foreign language! I want people to speak to me in English!”
A student nearby agreed: “Yeah, I’m in America, you should speak American!”
Then the subject turned to classes: “Brit Lit? Is that like British Literature? I don’t want to read what some British guy wrote!”
Another student asked: “What’s literature, anyway? Is that like reading?”
One girl asked another what child development was. The response: “That’s when you get to play with kids all day.” The counter: “Oh, I’m taking that! I want lots of babies.”
One kid expressed excitement that I’d cracked open the side of a computer, and told his friend to check it out. The friend’s response: “Who cares what the inside looks like?”
Having worked in education for over 7 years now, I can tell you this is very common. It’s very easy to just shake my head and say things like “The future is screwed.” The fact is, however, this is nothing new. I knew kids in high school who were just as bad, and there always has been (and always will be) underachievers and kids who are just plain stupid.
What’s really depressing about it is it’s never been easier to get an education. Kids don’t have to go to the library or look for books anymore, they can tap out a few keystrokes and find whatever they need. They can talk to more people than ever, and even kids in rural areas like mine have a great window to other cultures. In short, the Internet and technology really can be all that the education wonks wish it to be, the trick is making kids care.