The App Generation: How Today’s Youth Navigate Identity, Intimacy, and Imagination in a Digital World

Howard Gardner and Katie Davis. Yale Univ., $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-300-19621-4
According to Harvard psychologist Gardner and University of Washington digital media expert Davis, we should worry when apps become shortcuts for critical thinking and questioning. This book’s argument is really an unequivocal condemnation of standardization in learning: “There is much talk about twenty-first century skills—the ‘four Cs’ of critical thinking, creative thinking, collaboration, and community. On the other hand, almost all educators... call for the kind of constrained curriculum and traditional standard tests that at their best capture skills of a bygone era.” On its face, however, the book is a look into a great social experiment. Most of the research here is observational and anecdotal—focus groups, interviews, and a review of student artworks and stories from a 20-year period. The authors find correlations between the rise of digital technologies and more individualistic values in television or increasing complexity in student artwork, for example. However, correlations are not causations, as the authors readily admit. Are members of the so-called App Generation risk averse because of their devices, or because of 9/11 and the stock market crash? More provocative than conclusive, the book provides useful frameworks for further research. Agent: Ike Williams and Katherine Flynn, Kneerim, Williams & Bloom. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/05/2013
Release date: 10/01/2013
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