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Rewired: Understanding the iGeneration and the Way They Learn

Rewired by Larry Rosen

Rewired
by Larry Rosen

I remember playing Oregon Trail on the computer, using a dos operating system, and being rewarded in computer class by getting to use “paint”. Larry Rosen’s book, Rewired, is his attempt to bridge the gap between those that share my previously noted experiences, and those that now make fun of CD-Rom’s. This 2010 book was the culmination of years of research by a Psychology professor. Which leads me to my first critique of the book. 1) This is a book about teaching the next generation…written by a guy who doesn’t work in a classroom. I actually don’t know what classroom some of his ideas would work in. I work in a lower income school, and I can definitely tell you that our kids are not reading the encyclopedia on their phones in class, but texting anyone and everyone. As a professor, his life has been lived in theory, but the practical application is better suited for those in the class room. Many of Rosen’s ideas would be extremely difficult, impractical, and others impossible to implement into the classroom.

This book, for being written 4 years ago, is quite dated and, in my opinion, out of touch with middle and high school students and their technologically driven lives. A hint to Mr. Rosen, no high school or middle school student, even in 2010, used Myspace.   None of my middle school students are wandering around on second life. In his defense, twitter, vine, instagram, and snap chat had not exploded onto the scene, but still his idea of technology is a bit dated at this point. Texting hadn’t gained the notoriety that it has to day as well. I appreciate his idea for creating a virtual class room for students to study in at home, but it seems unfeasible since they don’t have avatars.

Where this book is extremely helpful is in his cry for teachers to be thinking technologically and in his cultural analysis. As someone who attempted to engage students with material for 7 years, he lays out the challenge clearly and succinctly to us:

“our challenge as parents and educators is to create a match between students technological interests and skills, theirs sociological—often virtual—environments and the educational system that propels their performance to higher levels and is, at the same time, engaging enough to rekindle a love of school and learning.” (4)

The job of educators is to inspire their students to learn (I got that from “Here comes the boom”) and harnessing the power of technology can only do that. Students spend more time in front of a screen than anything else. When at a conference or concert, students in the front row still watch the screen instead of live. The other thing that Rosen excelled at was his cultural analysis. This is a multi-tasking generation. Wanna scare a student, tell them to work on their homework in silence. They would freak out. This is not only a multitasking generation but a creative generation. They have been convinced that they are all artists. And with vine, youtube, itunes, flickr, and instagram, they all are able to put their art out there.

Rosen attempted to show how to engage this generation in the classroom. I feel like he fell short of his goal because of his inability to speak across economic boundaries as well as understand the world of teachers. In theory this book was a good read, but his application and ideas left a lot to be desired. I believe better ideas will surface when teachers are able to showcase students creativity and problem solving ability online as opposed to teaching them online. The problem is a tougher fix than handing them an ipad.

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