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Those Kids Today

Mr. Cover teaches reading at Fox Meadow Intermediate Center in Jonesboro, Arkansas. One of his lessons involves students writing consumer product reviews – a fact I was alerted to today when their review of the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean Boombox landed in my inbox. See here for their write-up.

Apparently, reviewing consumer product hones their “analytical and critical thinking skills.” That’s great, and kudos to Mr. Cover for engaging these young minds in a creative fashion.

But there is a far more disturbing element to Mr. Cover’s pedagogy: he is training a veritable army of product reviewers who will crash onto this nation’s already over-stretched eco-system of product magazines, Web-sites and blogs (not to mention prestigious trade journals). Rather than work their way into the product reviewing ranks the old fashion way – by earning a liberal arts degree  in “critical dance studies” and then casting about desperately for work upon graduation – these reviewbots will hit the streets with their skills sharply honed.

I should also caution Mr. Cover’s students not to be lured by the siren song of the “reviewer lifestyle.” Yes, it’s true that society will regard you with the high esteem typically reserve for politicians and the warden at Abu Ghraib, but it’s not at all glamorous. It’s a long, hard slog of a life. As the New York Times reported recently, covering the consumer electronics industry can actually kill you.

You have been warned.