I love to publish the work of students. Here is an essay by Rockdale Career Academy 10th grader Jennifer Lee, sent to me by her teacher Joanna Anglin, who was Georgia Council of Teachers of English state Teacher of the Year in 2011.
Jennifer takes an interesting position, that the attachment of her generation to technology is undermining their education and their work ethic. She also argues that we give students too many opportunities to make up lackluster performance, thus reducing the pressure on them to work hard in the first place.
Here is Jennifer’s essay:
The greatest feat of man was evolving and developing into the intelligent beings we are today. However, recently people’s minds have been reverting back to their basic, primary state, that of the mind of a monkey.
People in the United States have become increasingly dependent on technology to the point where they no longer have to work as diligently to learn. In turn, people do not apply themselves as actively in school, but they still manage to be pushed onto the next grade. This is because people have become content with passing with the lowest common denominator. This lack of effort in school and dependence on technology is causing the intelligence of the U.S. population to decrease at an alarmingly fast rate.
Studies from tests conducted in 2003 prove that the United States population is becoming increasingly dense, particularly when compared to other countries. The studies compared each country’s average test scores in both physics and advanced math. In each of these comparisons, the United States was in the bottom two out of the 16 countries tested, only coming second to last to Australia in the advanced math division (Hodges). This was just after technology truly took the world by storm. Cell phones, portable music, and instant messaging devices were becoming increasingly popular and prevalent (Balke). All of these technological innovations amplified the level of distractions in classrooms, having a direct effect on the students’ ability and desire to learn. All the information they needed was now easily accessed by the push of a few buttons. The United States had never been the top scoring country in either of these areas, but after the introduction of electronics in classrooms, the scores plummeted.
Even I had gotten caught up in all of the technology presented to me. There became many days when I would feel too lazy to put in the effort to do my work correctly. In that case I would simply look the information up online. This, of course, did not help me learn the material at all. I would barely pass my tests with a very low “D” and that was when I finally realized that my dependence on technology was truly having a negative influence on my education. Unlike most people, however, I was not satisfied with this fact. I decided to do something about it. I began to pay more attention and put in more effort in class and in turn, my grades began to rise.
In the past 10 years, there have been a multitude of “security nets” installed to try to keep students from failing. It has become clear, however, that these nets do more harm than good. Many brilliant students every year walk down the hallways of high schools with the potential to go far, but their potential ultimately goes to waste. These students who could have gone on to pursue so many great accomplishments end up sitting in class not putting in the effort that they should because they realize that there will always be a way for them to ultimately pass the course.
Whether it is through extra credit, make-up work, credit recovery, or even summer school, there will always be a way to pass a class while putting in little to no effort. The students lack the determination and drive to want to do the best they can do and instead settle for passing with the lowest grade and least amount of effort possible. Many students rely on this every year and use it as an excuse to do other things in class such as text, tweet, or even Facebook one another from various electronic devices.
“We’re always changing. And it is important to know that there are some changes you can’t control and that there are others you can” (Half Nelson). In this instance there is something that can be done. The fate of this generation can change, but in order for that to happen a generous effort must be made. Teachers need to be stricter on enforcing the rules on electronics in the classrooms. They need to constantly keep students actively participating in the class rooms by using new teaching techniques, such as acting things out, having group discussions, letting them answer questions on the board, in class projects, and other highly participative activities.
“Security nets” such as summer school and credit recovery need to be removed as well to give students the incentive to work harder to achieve the grades that they need in order to pass and in order to save future generations from letting their minds go to waste. Right now this generation is failing. It is failing because of the dependence on technology and the lack of desire to learn. The United States population is becoming increasingly less intelligent and things need to change, for the fate of the entire population relies solely on the education of this generation.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog