Taking Aim At Cliches

Gary Stager is one of those writers who is not at all shy about letting you know just where he stands. In two recent posts, he lets loose on two different ideas that transformed from useful concepts to abused cliches.

In the first one he takes a well deserved swing at the cult of web 2.0 and the glorification of the “digital native”.

In the social upheaval of the 1960s and 70s, young activists used to say, “Never trust anyone over 30.” It seems that popular middle aged ed tech keynote speakers and bloggers have embraced that slogan as a form of self-loathing. The Digital Natives/Immigrants cliché and other similar nonsense is built on the assumption that Twitter (or whatever replaces it an hour from now), somehow makes you smarter, a better citizen and reduces the chances of male pattern baldness. Such ageism makes me a bit queasy.

When Marc Prensky first wrote about digital natives vs. digital immigrants six or seven years ago, he introduced a useful metaphor for discussing the dichotomy between how kids and adults used technology.

Since then the concept has been morphed into a cliche that is used as an excuse by too many people unable or unwilling to learn what’s going on.

The World is Flat is another example of an idea that went from useful discussion point to flat out cliche in record time.

And in another article Stager also has a few wonderfully pointed opinions on this subject as well.

I have not moderated my 2005 appraisal that The World Is Flat is chock-full of sloppy facts, simplistic reasoning and dopey rhymes. My greatest concern is that school leaders are much more apt to quote from books written by men who have never run a business than from those written by educational innovators. An administrator’s quest for a quick fix and misplaced faith in the advice of charlatans is much more alarming than Mr. Friedman’s ignorance of technology, education or policy. He just wrote a book. We bought it.

I don’t fault Friedman’s book as much as Stager does. However, I do object to the way the author and his supporters have converted his observations into a cult.

The World is Flat is certainly an interesting read and has some ideas that need to be discussed. It’s just not the revealed word as some would have you believe.

While I don’t agree with everything Stager has to say, I do love the way he rants.