I had an interesting conversation with a bunch of people yesterday around Gen-C and the fact that because they are connected on so many planes it actually becomes increasingly difficult for them to learn in the traditional sense. This was followed up by listening to last week’s lecture about "learning about learning", and then when I got home I read the school newsletter where the principal of junior school was commenting on mobile phone use.
Let’s see… some of the thoughts I encountered…
"I have said before that during school hours I can see no reason for a Junior School student to require a mobile phone. However some parents feel more comfortable for children to carry one after school while travelling home. If this is the case, can you please remind children that phones stay in bags and switched off while in school."
"Having to listen to music, have IM windows open and be able to talk on the mobile, while producing quality homework? Well, what can we do to fix that problem?" (note the apparent need to "fix" a perceived "problem")
"I don’t agree that the work environment should be open, allowing people to use Facebook, Twitter and other socially aware applications – that isn’t productive." followed up by yet another desire to "fix" it.
It’s kinda like the inability for the audio-sequential, transmission-based teachers and adults of old not understanding visual-spatial, constructivist students, often shunting them off to the loser camp because they don’t flourish in a world that is conforming them to something that isn’t natural for them.
To be fair, some of the thoughts from the other point of view…
"It is now recognised that students will learn better, will grow in their personal knowledge of the subject matter if they approach it in a constructivist manner, which includes many things that we would previously have considered ‘cheating’ or ‘colluding’. Now we should be encouraging this kind of behaviour as it allows the students to create their own understanding rather than memorising rote learning for them to regurgitate later on."
"Twitter allows me to stay in contact with my spread out family in a way that email cannot. It’s a subscription model, not a push/pull model and so allows my communications to be consumed by those that are interested in them."
"I might not get the whole Gen-C thing myself, but I understand that others do work better in that way – who am I to stop them?"
So, what do we do? There are a small number of adults today that exhibit Gen-C behaviour. I suspect that there are actually more than those we can see, but they simply haven’t been immersed in the new connected world to "get" it. But there are a huge number of young people who are most definitely Gen-C – should we really be stopping them flourishing because their natural way of doing things goes against traditional views?