Net Gen skepticism is generating a backlash. Chris Lott writes:
"The only Net Gen nonsense is coming from those who spend their time worrying about a research basis for a phenomenon that is easily observable in any classroom...The remonstrations about the evidence remind me of scientists concluding that bumblebees can’t fly and philosophers concluding that there is no physical reality. Like Berkeley, I refute you thus, with the students I teach every term… but I will refrain from kicking them as proof!"
Well, I didn't know that scientists claimed that bumblebees couldn't fly. If they did, this is all the more reason to examine claims critically. I do not doubt that the current generation is different from the previous. All generations differ from each other in some ways. It would be foolish to argue otherwise. Social, economic and technological conditions change and these shape who we are and how we think and behave.
What I take issue with is are the sweeping, apparently unsubstantiated, claims that are made:
a) about the defining characteristics of this generation and,
b) the implications these have for how we teach.
I do not dismiss practitioner knowledge. All teachers should be adjusting what they do based on what they observe in their classrooms. But to generalize that to an entire generation and then propose and make widespread institutional changes based on these anecdotal observations is irresponsible. It is also irresponsible for educators to continue to blindly accept these claims without examining the evidence.
As George Siemens points out in his response to Chris Lott, I am not refuting the claims, I am only saying the evidence doesn't support the claims. And as I have said in my presentations, I am not saying we shouldn't be critically examining how we teach and responding appropriately to our learners, but this should be based on evidence not on techno-utopian net gen hype.