Like many these days, I get my news online. Twitter and Facebook feeds provide me with bite-sized chunks of information that I can click, read (sometimes skim) and share or send to others.
Thus, when an Atlantic article popped up in my Facebook feed today entitled “My Students Don’t Know How to Have a Conversation,” I clicked and read. What I learned made me realize that the future of journalism (and the rest of the world) is in the hands of these students. Some who can’t even hold a conversation…
Paul Barnwell, a high school teacher and author of the Atlantic article, said that through projects aiming to practice the skill of conversation he is “focused on sharpening students’ ability to move back and forth between the digital and real world.” Barnwell notices a lack of intellectual discussion, online and in person, among his students and the millennial generation as a whole.
Think about this: his class is surely comprised of future lawyers, doctors, engineers, teachers, government officials and most importantly (for the sake of this blog) future journalists. Journalists are primarily out in the field interviewing, conversing, observing, learning, experiencing; if young people have already lost the skill of conversation and fail to see its importance, then what is the future of journalism?
We’re going digital, aren’t we?
Ideally, even though we live in a digital world, a dynamic person still possesses skills like patience and effective communication habits. Well, those things come from personal interaction and conversation. In a New York Times column, psychologist, professor and author, Sherry Turkle wrote: “Face-to-face conversation unfolds slowly. It teaches patience. When we communicate on our digital devices, we learn different habits … we start to expect faster answers. To get these, we ask one another simpler questions. We dumb down our communications, even on the most important matters.”
In conclusion, Barnwell suggests striking a balance between digital and interpersonal communication to propel the next generation forward. Knowing when and how to put down the phone or shut the computer to cultivate conversation and experience life away from a screen is something that now needs to be taught in schools if we want the next generation of thinkers and doers to succeed. Scary, huh?
Don’t be fooled. Even though most news gets to me through social media and online platforms, I’m well-versed in the art of interpersonal communication. One conversation with me and you’ll see I’ve mastered the balancing act.