Academic Disengagement

Students are more connected to each other than ever, via The O.C. watching parties (in my era it was ER), blogs, and buddy lists, says an English professor in The Chronicle of Higher Education, but are as disengaged as ever in relation to their studies. Of course, the professor’s lament is nothing new from academia — I don’t think there has ever been a generation in the professoriate that didn’t think their students were the most uninterested (and uninteresting) ever — but I believe he has a point about how the ubiquity of technological gadgets and the demand to keep up with advances in technology distracts from the traditional forms and modes of liberal arts education. As ITA’s resident Postmanite, it doesn’t suprise me that students find their classes unengaging because their professors not flashy and constantly bombarding them with stimuli to keep their attention. The brain attuned to multitasking and perpetual alertness will soon find itself bored with subjects that require longer attention and deeper inspection. So how does one educate in such an environment? Say “ding!” after every sentence as if the lecture was being delivered over IM?

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