The Rise of the Net Generation
Strong shelves buckle from the
sheer number of recent publications promising to be
authoritative guides to the impact of the Internet on
our lives. Yet most books, unfortunately, fall far
short of their claim because they fail to incorporate
the vision and influence of our best, net experts
our children, our students.
Tapscotts most recent work, Growing Up Digital:
The Rise of the Net Generation, is a welcome and
insightful reading of a plugged-in generation poised
to fashion radical change on almost all aspects of
America, "N-Genners" number more than 80
million and range in age from diapers to diplomas.
Unlike their settled baby boomer parents, this
generational echo is bored by remote and passive
one-way television. The "N-Gen" understands
and craves the immediate multi-path interactivity
offered by new electronic media.
first time in history, children are more comfortable,
knowledgeable and literate than their parents about
an innovation central to society, and parents are
unnerved," says Tapscott. Forget the generation
gap. What is essentially happening right now, he
argues, is a "generation lap." Our children
are now the authority in an increasingly digital
domain where adults struggle to keep pace.
Digital is the product of a year-long creative
collaboration of hundreds of young people and adults
on six continents communicating over the Internet.
Tapscott has created a somewhat anecdotal but
valuable freeze-frame portrait of an articulate and
hopeful generation we see everyday in our classrooms.
interest to educators are the chapters on the
"N-Gen Mind" and "N-Gen
Learning." Taken together, these 72 pages
provide convincing evidence of a generation that
truly does act, and think,
authors conclusions will not please those
dedicated to the brick-and-mortar educational status
quo, but if Tapscott is correct, our schools,
businesses and governments must all undergo a
fundamental change in order to avoid an inevitable
generational collision course where the analog losers
are labeled irrelevant.
digital compression would have benefited this book.
Tapscott, at times, needlessly repeats points stated
persuasively in earlier chapters. Parents and
teachers may also find themselves questioning a
number of the broad behavioural and interest
generalizations Tapscott uses to support his
"N-Gen" age range of two to 22 years.
predicts a bright future for young people who now
have free access to the net, but does little to
trumpet the cause of those students who are
provides a compelling intellectual roadmap for anyone
who wants to raise, educate, understand, or do
business with todays fearless Net Generation.
On the whole, Growing Up Digital is a worthy read.
Dont forget to sample the books web site
Stephen Oliver is a digital
media studies teacher at Central Huron Secondary
School in Clinton.
|The Right to Learn
Francisco: Jossey Bass Publishers, 1997
Reviewed by Rick
In a little over 300 pages, The
Right to Learn tracks the educational reform movement
of the last few years, takes stock of its
impediments, celebrates the pockets of achievement,
and charts a direction for the teaching profession
and the policymakers with whom we must work. Linda
Darling-Hammonds book is informed, logical,
well-documented and convincing.
acknowledges that reform in education will happen
only in individual classrooms led by innovative,
informed and creative teachers. As she says,
"The opportunity to be effective is the single
most powerful motivator for entering and staying in
teaching and for triggering commitment and
In the chapter
"Creating Standards Without
Standardization," Darling-Hammond urges teachers
to assert their professionalism through
self-regulation: "Standards of practice
are not prescriptions; instead they reflect shared
norms and knowledge about underlying principles of
practice, the effects of various techniques, and
policymakers and politicians for short-sighted and
unsupported initiatives: "Telling schools to
change has never worked to produce markedly different
teaching over many decades of efforts at curriculum
. Policymakers must build capacity for
and commitment to the work required rather than
assuming that edicts alone will produce the new
practice they envision."
an American, promotes the role of an organization
like the Ontario College of Teachers for the
professional life of teachers: "An occupation
becomes a profession when it assumes responsibility
for developing a shared knowledge base for all of its
members and for transmitting that knowledge through
professional education, licensing, and ongoing peer
The Right to
Learn is written in clear, cogent language,
unobtrusively substantiated by recent research.
Its the kind of book you should read, share
with teachers in the staff room and give to the chair
of your school council. You also might like to share
it with a trustee, or MPP. The Right To Learn should
be required reading for teachers, parents and
Rick Chambers, who taught
English for 27 years, is a program officer in the
Colleges Professional Affairs Department.