Education Opinion

“The Silent Praying Position” (Response to a comment)

By Marc Prensky — September 08, 2014 2 min read
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“The Silent Praying Position”

Here goes our “dia-blog” ! My first commenter, a teacher (and fan - thanks!) expresses a huge concern of a great many parents and teachers today:

How to deal with kids who are more engaged with their devices — especially phones — and less involved in face-to-face discussions with others, and with their teachers?

The writer says:

”... I am a HUGE believer in using technology in the classroom including cell phones. However, each day I see students coming into my classroom hunched over, looking at their phone or in the silent praying position. ...”

I — Prensky — believe we are living through the beginning of a big, worldwide change in how people relate and communicate. What it means to be “human” is changing — it is not long until these devices will be built-in to all of us, and we will all be operating as human-technology symbioses. We need to figure out ways to embrace these changes.

Yet today’s adults all grew up in a face-to-face world. The paradigm for intense, worthwhile communication in our generation is looking someone in the eye as you talk to them.

Face-to-face is still, clearly, very important. I try to teach my 9-year-old son (a new 4th grader) to do it well, particularly when in situations with adults and when meeting anyone for the first time. He does fine, but his preference is overwhelmingly to communicate electronically. He texts with many of his classmates. He has his own You Tube channel. He asked for Camtasia as a birthday present. Given the choice, he’d rather text or email than call. He may be an extreme case — but he represents, I think, the new world direction.

He recently wrote in a school essay: " Something I’m really good at is making friends and being social online. Here’s an example: I join a public Minecraft server and the first thing I see in chat is “Welcome!” Then I say “Thanks.” We have a conversation and I usually become friends with the person. I already have over 70 online friends...” He sees “face-to-face” as useful principally for debating and persuading.

How do we help all our students succeed and thrive in this new world — their world — (which, of course, still contains a lot of important elements from our Pre-Internet world)? This is what we all are struggling with.

One thing we can say for sure: If our paradigm for a successful education is one where we put face-to-face communication within the classroom on a higher level than effective electronic communication with the outside world — rather than deeply integrating the two — we will need to rethink our paradigm. We must figure out how to incorporate the “silent praying position” (or whatever comes after it) into our classroom-based education — and still make that education effective.

The commenter offers one suggestion for how to do this: I will discuss it in my next post.

As always, your comments are welcome.


The opinions expressed in Prensky’s Provocative Ed-Tech Thinking are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.