Friday, December 9, 2011

No Time For Homework (including term papers)

Thomas L. Friedman
Michael Mandelbaum

That Used To Be Us
New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011, pp. 128-129

...We wish the figure of 27,000 texts a month [by a 14-year-old girl] came out of Ripley’s Believe it or Not. In fact, it is the new normal. On January 10, 2010, the Kaiser Family Foundation released the results of a lengthy study entitled Daily Media Use Among American Children and Teens Up Dramatically from Five Years Ago:

“With technology allowing nearly 24-hour media access as children and teens go about their daily lives, the amount of time young people spend with entertainment media has risen dramatically, especially among minority youth, according to a study released today by the Kaiser Family Foundation. Today, 8-18-year-olds devote an average of 7 hours and 38 minutes (7:38) to using entertainment media across a typical day (more than 53 hours a week). And because they spend so much of that time “media multitasking,” (using more than one medium at a time), they actually manage to pack a total of 10 hours and 45 minutes (10:45) worth of media content into those 7 1/2 hours. The amount of time spent with media increased by an hour and seventeen minutes a day over the past five years, from 6:21 in 2004 to 7:38 today...While the study cannot establish a cause and effect relationship between media use and grades, there are differences between heavy and light media users in this regard. About half (47%) of heavy media users say they usually get fair or poor grades (mostly Cs or lower), compared to about a quarter (23%) of light users...Over the past 5 years, time spent reading books [Twilight series? WF] remained steady at about :25 a day, but time with magazines and newspapers dropped (from :14 to :09 for magazines, and from :06 to :03 for newspapers). The proportion of young people who read a newspaper on a typical day dropped from 42% in 1999 to 23% in 2009.”

One quotation in the study captured the trend: “The amount of time young people spend with electronic media has grown to where it’s even more than a full-time workweek,” said Drew Altman, Ph.D., the president and CEO of the Kaiser Family Foundation.

At precisely the moment when we need more education to bring the bottom up to the average and the American average up to the global peaks, our students are spending more time texting and gaming and less time than ever studying and doing homework. Unless we get them to spend the time needed to master a subject, all the teacher training in the world will go for naught.

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