Grasshopper Minds

Dr. Seymour Papert, mathematician and co-founder of MIT’s Media Lab, coined the term “Grasshopper Minds” almost ten years ago referring to the short attention spans and quick parallel processing of what we now call Gen Y, Gen 2.0, or the Millennials.

The following is from a paper, “Teaching Generation Y“, by Professor Susan Eisner of Ramapo College:

Having used technology throughout their lives, Gen Y operates both faster and differently than previous generations. Its video games accustom it to “twitch speed,” MTV (its favorite cable channel) accustoms it to processing 100 images per minute, and special effects films accustom it to ultra-rapid action. The result? Gen Y’ers are skilled at parallel processing. They are accustomed to randomly accessed information, instead of linear thinking…. Achievement and winning are important. Experiences without obvious payoffs are frustrating (2003)….Gen Y has a populist sense that anyone can be a star, and feels that there is no one right answer. Gen Y-ers tend to naturally challenge what is being said, and have a “prove it to me mentality.”

How has this new generation affected the way the old generation of piano teachers teach? Many have updated but simply incorporating Music Ace and midi technology in the music studio doesn’t seem to be the answer.  And we definitely don’t need more Czerny exercises. Telling a student to simply practice is like speaking to them in a foreign language. However, today I discovered that Philip Johnston, of has some timely advice in his book Practice Revolution.

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