Friday, 4 July 2008

Is google making us learn differently?

Last week at a conference keynote presenter Tom March talked about the iPhone and showed clips of the things google can do. One idea I took from this was that he thinks that we need to change our thinking about how we organise schools and teaching.

Serendipitously on the way home I picked up the latest Atlantic Monthly and there emblazoned on the cover was 'Is google making us stupid?' This is an interesting article about the effects of the Internet on the brain; the contention is that the Internet has changed our thinking. The author Nicolas Carr says:

For me, as for others, the Net is becoming a universal medium, the conduit for most of the information that flows through my eyes and ears and into my mind. The advantages of having immediate access to such an incredibly rich store of information are many, and they’ve been widely described and duly applauded. “The perfect recall of silicon memory,” Wired’s Clive Thompson has written, “can be an enormous boon to thinking.” But that boon comes at a price. As the media theorist Marshall McLuhan pointed out in the 1960s, media are not just passive channels of information. They supply the stuff of thought, but they also shape the process of thought. And what the Net seems to be doing is chipping away my capacity for concentration and contemplation. My mind now expects to take in information the way the Net distributes it: in a swiftly moving stream of particles. Once I was a scuba diver in the sea of words. Now I zip along the surface like a guy on a Jet Ski.

On the other hand this seems like another world from the world many kids, that I see in schools, experience. On the one hand we have the amazing technology but on the other hand there are lots of kids struggling with basic reading and writing. I find that I'm often skimming and scanning through articles but I still take time to read BOOKS. As Maryanne Wolf, a developmental psychologist at Tufts University and the author of Proust and the Squid: The Story and Science of the Reading Brain says, deep reading is deep thinking.


Anonymous said...

Sam, I enjoy the way you think!
Cheers, Kylie.

Sam Grumont said...

Thanks Kylie. I bought Proust and the Squid yesterday and will write some thoughts about it later.

steve said...

Hi Sam,
just followed your side-link to Chris Lehmann's blog-post about why educational change is hard! Interesting paradigm about low-risk mediocrity and high-risk success. I came across an interesting link the other day about a book called 'Here Comes Everybody'.
Worth a look.