I’ve been thinking about the change. We are all talking about the digital natives but I think I’ve just met them. The ones I graduated from high school last year, the previous years were just the pioneers and now I have to deal with the real ones.
If we really know them, we can guide them.
But the problem is we are just a handful of digital-immigrant-teachers and parents. The rest thinks these kids are just a bit weird and continue doing the things they are used to doing. They complain about their addiction to games, their early acquaintance to mobile apps. Yet, they are rarely aware that they can’t be taught.
I totally agree with ‘If we teach today as we taught yesterday, we rob our students’ future’ ( John Dewey) and this must be a quote that every teacher would stick somewhere to see all the time and take action to update herself. And this very quote will be relevant in the future as well.
Marc Prensky calls these new students as ‘digital natives’ and points out that ‘Today’s students think and process information fundamentally differently from their predecessors’(Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants; pg 1) He also reminds us that these kids were born into a digital world and have grown using them.
I think I coped with this very well till last year but now I am face to face with the 2nd or the 3rd generation of these new kids.
I’d like to share how my students have changed. I also hope to understand them better and change my attitude towards them.
- They get bored easily. They think everything is useless. There is no need to learn all the stuff as they are a one-click away to reach.
- We think they are multi-taskers but actually the only multi-task they are used to doing is texting while watching TV or travelling on the bus.
- They love socializing but they do it virtually. Even the youngest kids have twitter, facebook, foursquare, youtube accounts to broadcast their lives. They don’t usually sit and chat with their parents, siblings at home.
- They don’t get instructions. I tried many times in many ways, in many languages but always the majority of the class comes up with something totally different than I instructed. (and actually this post is being written because of this, I received two-assignment mails last night but they produced something I didn’t instruct)
So is this the end of battle?
Although I totally agree with the proverb Eric Roth reminded me the previous day ‘you can lead the horse to water, but you can’t force him to drink’ As I know deep down they are worried about their future and know that learning English will help them open new doors, I will try to follow the advice my PLN gave.
And here is the strategy:
- I will tell, retell and re-retell how to learn things, how to use web to reach the information, how to filter them.
- I will explain how important communication is. Social networking is a must in their lives but they should realise that they will enjoy the chats with their parents, sisters, brothers.
- I will try colourful progress charts as Naomi suggested
- I will continue giving interesting tasks but will also focus on more traditional ones.
- I will give them choice. ‘Choose a topic and and let’s work on it’ will be the instruction ( and I will hope that this will be comprehended)
- As Richard suggested I will allow them to work with activities which will ‘take their minds off other things’. ( I tried puzzles, word searches, games and they didn’t work with this group but, I’m sure I can find something else)
If these still don’t work, I will just take a deep breath and wait for the next group in September.
Prensky. M. (2001) Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants Part II, from On the Horizon (MCB University Press, Vol. 9 No. 6, December 2001)
BTW if you are celebrating Easter tomorrow, Happy Easter to you and to your loved ones.