I feel like I’ve been reading a lot of newspaper articles lately about the sky falling, our students getting stupider and lazier, technology is going to destroy the earth and our minds, etc so forth. And I think, I’ve read letters from two hundred years ago from professors complaining about their students being stupid and lazy. And sometimes it’s just that they are 18 and sometimes it is that we are insecure and don’t understand why they aren’t lapping up what we have to offer and sometimes it is because we are transitioning from being responsible for a single student (me) to many students–most of whom are not meant to go to grad school and do not think like we do.
Or technology does do nasty things and great things…and has been doing so since humans realized they could start fires. But what is interesting is the specifics of what technology is up to. So for instance, there was a recent New York Times article about cell phones destroying kids’ ability to think deeply because it is causing everyone to be ADD through multi-tasking. I’ve had some time recently to just concentrate on research and I find myself spending waaaaaay more time on Facebook than when I was teaching and administering. This is because my brain needs a rest from the writing to ponder. And sometimes I ponder staring out the window. And sometimes I ponder doing mindless things on Facebook. And when I was in grad school I would have felt immensely guilty at the “procrastination” but instead I choose to think that I’ve written about 30 pages based on new research in the last week and a half…while taking time off for Thanksgiving and an art project and some chicken-little like updating on facebook about how my writing is causing the sky to fall (cause externalizing the anxiety lets me go on with the writing process).
My question for you all is this–do you ever feel the same way about the over-blown nature of “sky is falling” media? How do you sort through the end-times rhetoric for things that are actually changing? How do we balance history as change and history as the same themes arising over time?