Technology is a useful tool for a few things in life and in the educational world. Only a few things. One is for record keeping. The other is its use as a creative medium, akin to musical instruments or paint. There is another final use which is a two-edged sword. It is useful for tracking down information if you are properly trained in critical, logical, and skeptical thought. But it is not a tool made for delivering that found content in a way which partners with how our brains process information. That makes this last use of technology an enticing intellectual danger. This is because it has been determined definitively at this point that consuming anything more than surface level content digitally is counterproductive to memory formation and deep thought. But this fast acquisition of surface content is highly addictive to people. And as they consume more and more of this shallow type of content, people lose the ability to wrestle with deep content. I have lost count of how many of my friends and acquaintances over the years have told me they used to read books all the time. But now they can't. The book The Shallows, a Pulitzer Prize finalist book by Nicholas Carr, answers why they can't. It answered why I couldn't. That book scared the daylights out of me. There is a reason it was a Pulitzer Prize finalist the year it came out. And now the latest studies of reading for pleasure among children show that they are doing less and less of it. I remember when the Harry Potter books came out and we teachers thought we were entering a golden age of children reading as young student after student heaved around those thick books everywhere they went. This was the case even in the inner-city schools, where I was a teacher at the time. But that was right before the internet, smart phones, myspace and its followers, and of course YouTube. You rarely see students doing that in the school hallways anymore. Look in their backpacks. Very few will have a book of any weight in it anymore (that they chose for pleasure).

This article in the Times, points out the technological lie that is currently infecting our school systems and draining our budgets, and discusses a little of the research surrounding why it is truly a lie.

Link: The Times