Kid these days…
They can text rings around us adults, figure out the most complex of technical devices, and multitask so fast that keyboards are in danger of spontaneous combustion from all the furious clicking of keys, right?
Wrong! I have yet to see any students exhibit on a mass scale the skills and innate abilities that those labeled “digital natives” are supposed to have (note, I never used the term digital native, I thought it was bogus from the start). The truth of the matter is, some students are more apt to be able to figure out complicated software, dart in and out of multiple windows, but no more so than the number of students who excel at football, complex differentials, or playing the guitar. I’m not saying that students can’t adapt, but rather the myths of multi-tasking (aka acquired inattention) need to be laid to rest, and replaced with actual shortcomings of attempting to multi-task.
Which leads me to the following audio snippet I captured earlier this evening at my piano (warning, I’m not that great at piano). To me, the ability to multi-task doesn’t impress unless someone is attempting to accomplish two rather difficult cognitive tasks (completely dependent on the individual’s talents that is). For example, I have a terribly difficult time trying to play the piano and talk at the same time. Thus, I present to you, my attempt to “Multitask This!”
Imagine how much fun it would be to showcase your shortcomings the first day of school by sharing a small piece of audio like this? Let your students know up front that there are some things even teachers have a hard time accomplishing (and maybe get a few laughs out of it). A bit more seriously though, the idea of multi-tasking is that it’s either HARD to accomplish a few tasks well, or it’s EASY to do a pretty crappy job at a lot of tasks. Would you rather have your students struggling to accomplish something monumental, like creating effective and moving persuasive video essays of their written work? Or would you rather keep them busy with an endless litany of mindless “edu-games” that mostly just serve as distractions?
If you’re interested in creating your own “Multitask This!” audio snippet, I’d love to hear the results. Just capture some audio (unedited of course) of you trying to accomplish two tasks that seem rather basic, perhaps even elementary when completed in isolation, yet present quite a challenge for you when combined.