Since working with a group of middle schoolers I’ve thought more and more about the concept of education and the role of the teacher. A few times I lectured to the kids on screenwriting and poetry. A few times I did group activities where we worked together to create a character, story, or plot.
Reflecting on my education, I realize that a lot of it was centered around these two methods. In retrospect there were some great lectures and some poor. But the idea of lecturing just doesn’t seem satisfying. I recall my time in middle school where I would listen and soak everything in, while on other days my mind would drift off. On these days, the teach seemed more of a recording that could be listened to or not, depending on my mood.
With the kids, I ran through a bit of script with them and they all claimed to understand it, but afterwards were generally unresponsive. Then when they split into groups the classroom came alive and were more productive than ever. Perhaps I helped them understand it better, or perhaps I bored them out of their minds.
With all of these in mind, I looked further and found this video. So now I’m to seek a better understand of how people learn, and importantly how they learn effectively.
There exists a great fear and frustration in the journalism industry that the youth of today aren’t as engaged in news as past generations. Microsoft researcher and youth-culture expert Danah Boyd said, “General news is not relevant to young people because they don’t have context. It’s a lot of abstract storytelling and arguing among adults that makes no sense. So most young people end up consuming celebrity news.” I would add that sports news is another place to which youth turn.
Why is this a problem? For the news organizations it’s obviously a problem because it threatens their earnings, but the issue is more profound than that. In the United States, there’s a lack of connection to the world. Only upon leaving the country have I come to realize this. With a media and entertainment culture as powerful as ours, it isn’t a natural inclination to go out into the world searching to learn about other cultures. Why would you when the entire world seems to be turned towards us? Whatever the cause, it’s from here that stems the negative stereotypes of Americans, such as being bad at geography. Coming to Europe, every country seems more connected. Not by choice, but by the mere fact that they are close in proximity.
It’s one thing to acknowledge the problem, it’s another to fix it. While reading an Italian newspaper, I came across an article about the newspaper “Corriere Della Sera” and its efforts to put content online. This is not a feat in itself. The fact that the content was going straight to Facebook, one of the most influential tools today in regards to young people, was unique.
I find myself able to enter into international news more easily because I have met people from all around the world, turning abstractions and concepts into faces and personalities. This clearly is not an option for everyone, but it is proof that young people can enter into a relationship with news if they find a way to make it relevant. A number of American newspapers including The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal are already a part of this trend, and with any luck will catch the eyes of my generation and banish international/Youtube embarrassments in the future. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees.
Tagged: Andrew Erlandson, cultivate, generation, ignorance, interest, journalism, news, relevance, relevant, young, youth