Teaching Digital Natives

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Here’s how to keep today’s techno kids from
“powering down” the minute they walk into your
room…


Recently I casually observed a mixed-age ministry program in a
small church I visited, and something caught my eye. I noticed
something about the kids that I don’t think I’d ever really
seen
before–though I’m sure I’d witnessed the same thing
previously.

Five-year-old Kira followed her teacher around the room, toting a
DVD and endlessly imploring the teacher to get the remote so she
could watch her favorite Christian video. Eleven-year-old Maria
fiddled with her iPhone, playing games, texting friends, and
running new apps she’d downloaded, while 8-year-old Jordan played
with his dad’s new Flip phone, making goofy videos of the kids and
then replaying them for laughs. Two other kids sat huddled together
at the room’s lone computer playing a Christian video game and
lamenting the lack of an Internet connection so they could play
with others online.

So what struck me about this small group of kids? It wasn’t the
abundance of media and tech gadgets in a humble ministry. What I
really saw for the first time was how all the kids–from the
youngest to the preteen–were naturally integrating all the
technology at hand into their casual experiences that
evening.

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We used to say that today’s kids were “wired.” While this is still
true, we need to add “wireless” and “unplugged” to the mix. Kids
are connected to technology everywhere they are–whether it’s at a
home computer or walking down the street texting. Today’s kids are
uniquely adept at and equipped for our technological global
existence–much more so than many of us adults leading them.

A conundrum has been developing in public education that’s left a
majority of professional educators truly at a loss: They watch as
students, who outside of class quickly master every technological
advance unveiled, walk into their classrooms and glaze over, check
out, or “power down” because the lecture-based style is so outdated
and undeveloped that it’s rendering the classroom experience
irrelevant.

The common refrain of students who’ve been interviewed about the
topic is essentially, “I’m bored stiff when I go to class.” Many
say they feel they must turn off their brains when they walk into
classes because their teachers don’t understand how they learn
best. Students today are rejecting the lecture-based classroom. “My
teachers just talk and talk and talk,” kids say. “It’s not
Attention Deficit–I’m just not listening” one classic T-shirt
reads.

     

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