Tuesday, February 23, 2010

A Question at Dinner

Sitting in a restaurant last night, there was an interesting conversation. John, Arlie, and I were discussing the US Civil War. Arlie is a true millenial - meaning the generation that grew up with electronics, the internet, and have no aspiration to research anything because they can "google" it.

Here's how the conversation went:

John: "So how long was the Civil War?"
Arlie: "Um... ten years?"
Me: "No, it only lasted four."
Me: "Who was president during the civil war?"
Arlie: "Abraham Lincoln"
John: "Well at least you know that."

Then the waitress comes by, herself the ripe old age of 23. John quizzed her too.
John: "Do you know how many years the Civil War lasted?"
Waitress: "Um... I dunno. 7?"
John: "Actually it lasted four years from 1861 to 1865"
Waitress: "Really? I had no idea I'm a communications/journalism major so I don't do much in the way of history"

A little later the waitress returns from the kitchen with something, and said:
Waitress: "I asked the people in the kitchen how long the civil war lasted. None of them knew but the one guy pulled out his phone and said he could 'look it up'."

Sigh. What are they teaching in schools these days? How to Google questions on your iPhone? I would give the benefit of the doubt if I didn't have this conversation daily with different students on different subjects. I once had a conversation with a student and told them that I wanted to visit Italy. His reply was, "Is there anything to see in Italy?"