Seven Ways to Break the Consumer Mindset in Schools


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“For all the talk of “digital natives,” the truth is that my students come to class as consumer natives. They have watched videos and played video games but they have never created a video (fully edited) or a video game. They listen to music but they don’t know how to play an instrument. True, there are pockets of students who do amazing videos and post them on YouTube or who have found an audience for their work on Wattpad. However, they are the outliers.

This isn’t an indictment on this generation. The truth is we live in a consumer culture. The iPhone is a consumer device. Most apps are designed to make our lives faster, easier and more distracted by amusement.

Furthermore, students attend consumer-driven schools. Ask parents about the meaning of school and the most common answer is to “prepare them for the future.” Press harder and it becomes, “prepare them for better jobs.” We use language like “delivering content” when describing the act of teaching and learning. There’s an unspoken metaphor that students receive a lesson, use what they learned and transfer it into a diploma or a degree.

Students inhabit a consumer culture. They learn in consumer-based schools. It is no wonder, then, that students have little to no experience using technology creatively. And yet . . . watch a five year old with free time. Check out the wild imagination. Notice the sheer amount of creative play involved. Give them a set of crayons and paper (without the directions to color within the lines) and see what happens. It proves what we know to be true: we are meant to be creative.”

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Written by John Spencer

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