My Students Don’t Know How to Have a Conversation – Atlantic Mobile

I feel a little guilty for encouraging use of the course online discussion group. I hope students also have face to face conversations to exercise critical thinking. Although I teach at a university I see the same issue: lack of conversational skills and focus on the phone.

I recently had a disagreement with a book publisher regarding “adaptive learning smart books” (or something like that). I suggested students should do the now unthinkable: go to the library and read the book. The publisher point of view is “meet the students where they are, in front of a screen and on Facebook.”

Sorry, I may receive bad teaching reviews, but I will not meet students there. I am of the belief that students can and should step away from the screen and read a book, form a study group, and have conversations in person with real people. Call me old fashioned.

First came word processing programs that check grammar and spelling. As a result, society’s grammar and spelling ability may have taken a hit. Then there was GPS. When hurricanes like Sandy take out cell towers on the east coast people can’t find their way around. They were not paying attention to their surroundings. They were just following a screen. Now I understand writing is slowly being removed from primary school curriculum. But writing exercises areas of the brain and improves motor skills. If one no longer writes what happens to those areas of the brain and associated motor skills? Atrophy? Finally, as pointed out in the article below, the online push is diminishing society’s ability to have face to face conversations.

How do you feel about these trends? What are you doing to help the situation? Please make your children write, even in cursive. Please have face to face conversations with them as opposed to texting them all day. Or, let grammar, spelling, writing, critical thinking, and the ability to carry on a conversation be damned and hope the US can remain competitive.

2 thoughts on “My Students Don’t Know How to Have a Conversation – Atlantic Mobile

  1. I have to agree with Prof. Moore because one of the most important skills is on the verge of extinction. Writing is a tool to communicate from one generation to the other. High tech may not replace the intrinsic achievement in one’s life about how to write.

  2. I don’t believe that the word evolve contains the notion of progress. Evolving is just changing from one state to the next while progressing involves advancement toward a state more beneficial than the previous state. Maybe we have all fallen into the trap of assuming that the human quality of life must be improving simply because technology is “improving” and average lifespan is lengthening. Technology tends to make things easier for those who have access to the latest gadgets. And when things get easier they usually take less time and thus we can spend that saved time doing something else and so it all appears to make us more productive. But while we may get “more” done, we have traded something for that gain, the confident knowledge that comes from true understanding. Little by little we let machines do the doing for us and we slowly lose the ability to hunt, farm, navigate, sew, cook, clean, read, write, and maybe now we’re seeing the beginning of the end of the ability to converse. What’s left? How to think, how to procreate, how to eat? Are we progressing or just aimlessly evolving? One cannot deny that there has been unbelievable progress in humanity from the wheel, to medicine, to indoor plumbing, to electricity, etc but we become more and more dependent on technology with every passing day. We are not intellectually diversified. As a species we have too many eggs in one basket, too many shares of one stock. We are out of balance. We are vulnerable. But I also believe that every generation who reaches their 40’s feels this same sense of impending peril when they look at the youth. My fear lies not so much in our ability to stay competitive but in our ability to provide enough meaningful employment for the increasing number of people who inhabit this land when technology renders us less and less necessary. I believe we will rise to the challenge of reclaiming our important life skills and reversing our march into stupidity. For my part I will attempt to teach my children to be resourceful and resilient and to use technological advances as tools to be wielded rather than crutches to be leaned upon.

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