Children develop only as the environment demands development

I had the joy of taking a class with Dr. Waite this summer and, while reading Bauerlein, was fondly reminded of our animated class discussions.  (One of the only positive things to have come out of the past week’s relationship with the book “The Dumbest Generation”, I hasten to add!).  In CI5308, Introduction to Gifted and Talented, we read The Genius in All of Us, an inspiring book by David Shenk.  One of the many topics he addressed was how children develop only as the environment demands development.

As Baulerlein stated, James Flynn discovered that IQ scores rose markedly over the last century and, as a result of this, concluded that, “(The intelligence of) our ancestors in 1900 was anchored in everyday reality. We differ from them in that we use abstractions and logic and the hypothetical… Since 1950, we have become more ingenious in going beyond previously learned rules to solve problems on the spot”  (Flynn, 1987).

While Bauerlein remains intent on proving that the youth today are ‘culturally ignorant ‘, I am more inclined to surmise that the children of today are developing as their environment is demanding development.  And is there really something terribly wrong with that?  Can we not accept that tests designed many decades ago might yield different results in the 21st century?  I don’t think anyone would ever try to attest that “America now is a nation of shining intellects”.  What we cannot argue, in my opinion, is that American is different and surely that is ok.  The environment children are growing up in is demanding different challenges and utilizing different thought processes.

I think it’s ok that our children are going to be ‘smarter’ in something else and, perhaps if we modified our tests and all the studies to which Baulerlein refers to, we might see quite different results.

We can’t continue judging our students based on an old environment.  We have to adjust to the new one – and the time is now!


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