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Social Media Zombies / Zombie Education System part 2

April 24, 2012

Zombie click like. Zombie share. Zombie no think for self nor question authority. Zombie retweet this.

Forbes.com post today “Have We All Become Content Zombies?” by Steffan Postaer:

Many have attributed the popularity of zombies in our culture to not-so-latent fears about the economy or terrorism, suggesting that these ghouls symbolize a loss of control. It also has been suggested that we see ourselves in these mindless creatures for how quickly our appetites run amok.

I see it as a metaphor for the effect that social media is having on more and more of us every day. No longer able to process information, we rip through new media, biting and chewing and spitting out content, barely digesting any of it. Ravenously we move on to the next. Indeed, barely chewed facts, items and stories pass through us onto the web like offal. Our constant tweets and updates are mere bits and pieces, carrying links like so many worms, each containing the shred of something devoured earlier.

A similar attack on social-media over-connectedness can be found in this past weekend’s New York Times: “The Flight From Conversation” by Sherry Turkle. And while technology may deserve some of the blame, many others blame the education system for creating content zombies. ZombieLaw has already written about the Zombie Education System educating zombies And a post by Justin Marquis, Ph.D., Oct 24, 2011, entitled “Zombies in the Classroom: An Educational Nightmare” seems to agree:

What are the consequences of living through an industrialized education? Zombies, aside from the nice Halloweeny feel, actually provide an apropos metaphor, not only for the effects of mass-production education on the individual, but for its effects on our society as a whole.

Contrast, Rober Niles’ on his blog “Sensible Talk” posted April 12, 2012 “Killing the Zombie Lie” arguing that Pasadena’s public schools are not failing. Niles argues that this anti-public-schools rhetoric is a “zombie lie” as coined by eschatonblog (recall: eschaton blog also coined “zombietipandronnie”). Niles goes on to cite STAR test scores and to promote an upcoming documentary he is working on called the Go Public Project, that will profile the school district.

Even if test scores are good, The Nerdy Teacher’s post Oct 31, 2011: “Zombies and Education” blames the testing culture itself:

Our current system of education is focused on testing. Creating the perfect student is not about a well rounded thinker. It is about a person that can perform basic functions on an exam. The bar is set and students are asked to shamble over. There are educators that have no problem sinking their teeth into these students and turning them into these Zombies.

Continuing:

Zombies do not think. They do not problem solve. They are not creative. They wander. It is actually very easy to feel sad for these Zombies. It’s not their fault they are a Zombie. If given a choice, I’m sure they would not choose to be a Zombie. How can you not feel bad for a students that exits a system not knowing how to be creative or solve problems when they leave a system that has not showed them how?

So what to do? Niles suggests:

Stand up and demand change in our education system. In public education rally for more teachers, better pay for teachers, smaller class size, technology in the classroom that encourages connections to the outside world and innovative thinking, a longer school year, and replacing standardized tests with authentic experiences and assessment to de-zombify our nation. In higher education, more individualized instruction, the end of college rankings, and more affordable choices, are all steps in the right direction. But most importantly don’t let the zombies bite you. You will get infected with the same desire to mindlessly consume everything in your path. In contemporary zombie stories, the survivors eventually begin to rebuild their civilization.

Similarly the Nerdy Teacher writes:

there are pockets of resistance. Places of refuge where people are trying to keep going and start new. I see this every day on Twitter. There are pockets around this country that are striving to create more humans and less Zombies. They go about it slightly different ways, but they are fighting. These pockets are far outnumbered, but they continue to fight.

And that is the irony of social media; it is a consumable for mindless zombies and also the last best hope for human creative community. Perhaps the same is true of education more generally.

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