Mousetrap, original image uploaded to Flickr by peprice
When Mark Prensky talks of the Twitchspeed Generation being bombarded with 100 images a minute on the likes of MTV , is he advocating that this is acceptable or a good way to inform young people?
Just because it is done, does it make it desirable? That's my question today.
I think of my own kids watching TV or being entertained and realise just how irretrievably different they are to me when I was their age. Take the game Mousetrap, for example - actually, to be honest take ANY board game and if they take it out of the box more than once a year of their own volition, then they deserve a medal. As I recollect, Mousetrap was a treasure trove of delightful bits, and half the joy was setting the board up - despite the eternal frustration of the cage falling on its on.
I was ecstatic to receive a Mousetrap for Christmas and loved playing it. My own kids got a set a Christmas or two ago from their beloved Auntie, but each time they got it out of the box, I'd find them 10 mins later with it in the box again - Euan saying 'This game's just TOO MUCH effort'. They prefer to play with the diver in the bath, the steel ball has joined their GeoMag playset, the cage holds a fearful T Rex in Euan's model Jurassic Park (itself a plastic representation of Euan's very favouritistist PS2 game) and the mouse can be found in Shona's zoo - in other words they have REPURPOSED the contents to suit their more diverse interests (there's gotta be a future Blog post in there somwhere) because that game is just too slooooooooooooooooooooow paced for them.
But is this good? Or are my two, like all other children, missing out on life in the slow lane? I can't imagine them sitting down as wedid in the school holidays watching badly dubbed German tv shows - remember White Horses, Belle et Sebatien, Robinson Crusoe and Flashing Blade? Yet when I sit them down and sit with them, they do become engrossed in HR Puffnstuff and The Double Deckers. Throughout all this I am left with that feeling that they are missing out.
Anyway, I was talking with a friend last night, someone whom I have known only a short while, someone to whom small things are a big deal - like just going outdoors. And she was cutting herself up about making a fuss of simply going to the local shop.
Without saying too much about what happened, suffice it to say I felt she was very very brave in getting to the shops and back without seeking support from anyone. I told her to be proud of what she’d achieved, instead of being hard on herself that she’s made a fuss in the first place.
So it occurred to me that this ‘Twitchspeed’ analogy of Prensky’s could be applied to our daily lives. For now, with things happening so fast and furious around us all, we tend to overlook the small achievements or small things that we do and we then tend to make a big deal if the whole thing doesn’t turn out as planned.
I see this in my lessons when a pupil is upset when I tell her that such and such a word needs a capital letter, or if a font is hard to read, whilst praising her for the rest of what she has done. She will focus on the small negative comment instead of being buoyed up by the praise she has received. I know its only natural, but it means we miss the bigger picture.
Why am I writing this now? Well it’s because this is becoming more prevalent in my lessons than used to be the case and I am sure it’s because young people want to succeed in every capacity without room for failure, as a result of say, such failure not being rewarded in computer games – when you don’t progress unless you succeed in the linear pathway to the end goal (in most standard games). Compare this with the likes of Second Life which has no goal, it’s not a game after all, yet you can just do what you like without feeling you have failed to achieve what you set out to do.
I don’t know if that makes sense, but I think if we adopted an approach that we congratulated ourselves on each little achievement then this world would be a much happier place.