by Ken Ellis
For many students, what happens in the traditional America classroom
is boring. Small wonder, when you compare such relatively inanimate
stuff as pencil and paper bound reading, writing, and math drills to
the media mix of mind bending imagery and hair raising sound that
consumes most of their waking hours outside school.
A recent study, "Generation M: Media in the Lives of 8 to 18 Year-
olds," found that students in grades 3 to 12 spend an average of six
hours and twenty one minutes plugged in to some type of media each
day. Accounting for multitasking, the figure jumps to about eight and
a half hours including nearly four hours of TV viewing and forty nine
minutes of video game play. Comparatively, homework gets slightly
less than fifty minutes of attention.
Filmmaker and George Lucas Educational Foundation chairman George
Lucas thinks it's time to change "English" class into "Communication"
class, where students learn the grammatical rules of graphic arts,
film, and music along with English grammar." It shouldn't be taught
as some esoteric, arty thing. Communication skills should be taught
as very practical tools that you use to sell and influence people, to
get your point across -- especially in this age, where kids are, more
and more, using multimedia."
Until then, teachers will spend less than an hour each school day
teaching "English," leaving students to their own devices -- cell
phones, TVs, iPods, PlayStations, and laptops -- to enjoy their eight-
hour independent-learning adventure in the fun house of digital media.
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