Digital Nativism, Digital Delusions

And I thought I was quite critical of Marc Prensky! Jamie McKenzie has previewed his keynote for the National Council of the Social Studies (NCSS) at the end of November in San Diego. Read it here.

The major part of the article is a very biting critique of Prensky’s notions on Digital Natives and Immigrants, and his somewhat idiosyncratic and spotty use of academic research:

Prensky quotes Dr. Perry out of context and without citing which article or study he has in mind. He makes it seem like Perry is supporting his claim that growing up digitally will change the brains of the young.

If anything, Perry is arguing against the digital world that Prensky welcomes and celebrates.

His view of current teaching practices and teachers:

Where does Prensky come up with this kind of nonsense? Progressive educators have been arguing for learning that is engaging even before the advent of the television. John Dewey, Hilda Taba and many others have argued for learning that appeals to the senses and sparks the curiosity of the young.

The following sections are less well argued however. Jamie turns the phrase ‘digital deprivation’ round to refer to people who are so immersed in a digital world that they live in an impoverished physical world. I think there can be some truth to this (I can think of individual students past for whom this was certainly true), but not as well argued, backed up or qualified as it should be.

Thanks to Gia for pointing me to this article.

4 thoughts on “Digital Nativism, Digital Delusions

  1. Daniel Livingstone

    ps Think I was a bit too soft on McKenzie in that review. In his view of ‘digital deprivation’ he completely ignores a lot of evidence and published work that shows that (a) the main use of social networking sites by teens is to keep in contact with real-world friends that they DO meet face-to-face, and (b) there are many, many documented cases of people whose lives are significantly enriched through social networking and gaming.

  2. Bill Kerr

    I think its McKenzie the conservative critiquing Prensky the provocateur

    I’ve been to a McKenzie inservice and its all about baby steps, making the technology fit the existing curriculum. eg. Inspiration for concept mapping. He wouldn’t dream of taking teachers out of their comfort zones.

    During the break I asked him about logo and he was quite dismissive. “It didn’t work”. What he really means is that he can’t make a living out of it because its challenging, better to be less ambitious.

    His dreary quote from TS Elliot sums up his approach. Slash your wrists, life is so boring. He even has an article on his site titled, “Beware the Visionary”.

    Prensky talks nonsense but at least its interesting nonsense.

  3. Gia

    Thanks for the credit, Daniel.

    I should point out, however, that it was Scott Merrick who asked me for my opinion on it a few weeks ago.

    When I read the article I had a bit of a soapbox moment, which I won’t share here, because -quite frankly- both Prensky and McKenzie have had enough public air time for their ideas already without me adding any of my blurb to it.

    Suffice to say that neither of the authors do particularly well in the writing/research department. The only value of articles like this is that it gets people thinking and talking about the value of digital content, so I suppose it’s all good in the end.


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