Seven years ago I stupidly blew all of my savings on a backpacking trip to Asia. I was 26-years old and had planned to come back in three months. Instead I was gone for a year, returning to New York only when I was completely broke and a little tired.
I had a few contacts and started trying to make my way as a freelance writer, but I struggled at first. I was earning a pittance and moved into a crappy apartment with a couple of friends.
A year later I had landed my first full-time journalism job and was making enough to leave the place and the two roommates (who were themselves moving into their own new apartments) and move into a slightly less crappy place with just one. And two years after that, I accepted another new, much better job, which I still have now – and I could finally afford to live alone.
At the risk of sounding like a crank, I've never enjoyed living with others, so I was thrilled that the size of my household had quickly gone from three to two to one.
In a healthy economy, this would be a typical experience shared by many young adults in their 20s and early 30s as they climb their way up the employment ladder.
The economic recovery since the recession of 2008 has been profoundly unhealthy, of course, but especially for young adults. Unemployment for those without college degrees – and that’s a majority – has been brutally high. And a historically big share of recent college graduates have also been forced to accept low-paying jobs for which they’re overqualified. There simply aren’t enough good jobs to absorb them all.
This is a huge deal for the entire economy, and not just for young people.
Think about it this way. Both times that I parted ways with ex-roommates, each of us had to buy some of the usual stuff that goes with moving into a new place: furniture, kitchenware, lighting, cleaning equipment.
When enough people do this, the extra spending on these items gets money flowing through the economy, generating activity in the industries that make them. If a lot of people are moving into new homes at the same time, the construction sector also reacts by building more houses or apartments. And as neighborhoods get more crowded, restaurants and barber shops and laundromats pop up in response to serve the newcomers.
The virtuous cycle means more jobs in those peripheral sectors, higher wages, more people getting their own place, and so on.
Yet since the start of the recession, the percentage of people aged 18-34 who were still living with their parents has climbed dramatically – a result of their difficult economic circumstances. According to estimates from Goldman Sachs economists, there would have been 3.5 million fewer young adults living with their parents at the end of 2012 if that percentage had stayed the same. It started to fall very slightly just last year, but it needs to decline much further.
Young adults in the post-recession period entered a much tougher labor market than people in earlier generations. That they have little wealth and low incomes (when they even have jobs) has resulted in the abysmally slow pace at which new households have been formed.
The recovery has been poorer because of it – for all of us.
Ceremonial swords and staffs were swung in anger, resulting in injuries and panic during a commemoration of a military raid on a sacred shrine in Amritsar, India.
Earlier this year, I audited a computer-science course at Pomona College, my alma mater. And I was shocked, when on the first day, the professor told us it would be a closed-laptop class. Computer science without the computer!
That's how concerned some teachers are about distractions created by digital devices. But the temptation to text, email and play Candy Crush isn’t the only concern. It’s digital note-taking itself. A recent Princeton University study showed that students remember information more effectively through handwritten notes.
LearningCurve surveyed teachers and professors from kindergarten through graduate school to learn about their policies on laptops, tablets, smart phones and other technology in the classroom.
Very few teachers had a blanket-ban on tech in the classroom: only 13 out of 219. By contrast, 102 said that students are allowed to freely use technology, and 104 said they allow it "under limited circumstances."
Many college professors felt it was not their place to tell students to shut down their screens.:
College students can make the decision about whether or not it is worth their time and money to attend class, pay tuition, and then spend the class period browsing through Facebook. - Lee Cornell, professor, Computer Information Science, Minnesota State University, Mankato.The first night of my policy analysis class, I demonstrate with a comparison of possible classroom policies on laptops and their potential impacts on learning and other outcomes. Students get the idea! - Marieka Klawitter, professor, Policy Analysis, Social policy and Statistics, University of Washington, Seattle, WA.
Some teachers with open-use policies had mixed results:Theoretically, I allow my 8th graders to listen to music in their headphones if they're working, but have found it almost impossible to stop them from going onto other social media aps and playing games on their phone, so often have to retract the privilege. - Gina Beavers, 8th-grade teacher, Art, Brooklyn, NY. Perhaps I am old-fashioned, but I am always surprised that students will text, or leave their ear buds in during a lecture. - Janet Peterson, professor, Nutrition and Exercise Science, Linfield College, Newberg, OR.
There were strong feelings on both sides of the issue:Frankly, I find restrictive device policies ridiculous. If we expect college students to become mature adult thinkers, then holding them to prohibitionary rules seems to undermine that effort. - Tim Mahoney, professor, Teacher Education, Millersville University.We allow laptop/device usage only with direct, explicit teacher permission. Otherwise, students are expected to keep them closed. Frankly, any other policy, in my opinion, would be complete foolishness, no matter the educational level. As it is, the teachers at our school must police diligently the student use of devices. - Craig Copeland, teacher, Humanities, McDonogh School, Parkton, MD.
Some teachers got creative:Laptops and tablets can be used by students only if they sit in the front row. My teaching style is to walk around as I teach, so if they are in the front row, I can see the screen from time to time as I pass their desks. - Sylvia McGeary, professor, Religious Studies, Felician College, Lodi, NJ. I know they will use them, and frequently for something that is far from chemistry. I don't wish to foster ill will; therefore, instead of banning them, I "commandeer" them using the wireless network by sending them questions that they can answer for extra credit points. - Vanessa Castleberry, professor, Chemistry, Baylor University.
One teacher feels his classroom is a good place for students to learn the life skill of appropriate technology-use behavior:The kids need to learn when and how to use their phones appropriately. High school is the perfect place for this. If a student is clearly playing a game or having a long conversation via text, I remind them that it's disrespectful, and potentially detrimental to their learning. I frequently say "If you need to use your phone, then use it. Don't make a big deal about it, and don't take too long." - Jeff Castle, teacher, Graphic Design, Film Production, Computer Science, Albany High School, Albany, CA.
A few teachers just felt their subject was not one where technology should be used at all:Philosophy classes call upon people to listen and discuss. It is not information driven. Technology tends to divide people's attention and draws them away from active listening and participating. Thus, it actively works against the very habits necessary to critical and philosophical practices. One might as well be holding a smart phone during ballet training--it's that diversionary - David Hildebrand, professor, Philosophy, University of Colorado Denver, Denver, CO.
Others though, argued that all teachers need to give students access to classroom tech:It is a moral imperative, not only to provide equal access to all students regardless of socio-economic background, but also to prepare students for the technology skills expected in the world today. - Jerred Erickson, teacher, Social Studies, Spanaway Lake High School, Puyallup, WA.
If you are a teacher, parent or student, we want to know what you think. Tell us if you think technology should be used in the classroom in the comments section below, or tweet at us @LearningCurveED.