Friday, September 24, 2010

Does the Digital Classroom Enfeeble the Mind?

I'm bouncing the post in the queue for today to bring forward this article by Jaron Lanier, from last Sunday's New York Times Magazine education issue, which I think you should read in its brief entirety. Here is just one clip to whet your appetite:
How can you be ambidextrous in the matter of technology and education? Education — in the broadest sense — does what genes can’t do. It forever filters and bequeaths memories, ideas, identities, cultures and technologies. Humans compute and transfer nongenetic information between generations, creating a longitudinal intelligence that is unlike anything else on Earth. The data links that hold the structure together in time swell rhythmically to the frequency of human regeneration. This is education.

Now we have information machines. The future of education in the digital age will be determined by our judgment of which aspects of the information we pass between generations can be represented in computers at all. If we try to represent something digitally when we actually can’t, we kill the romance and make some aspect of the human condition newly bland and absurd. If we romanticize information that shouldn’t be shielded from harsh calculations, we’ll suffer bad teachers and D.J.’s and their wares.

Right now, many of these decisions are being made by the geeks of Silicon Valley, who run a lot of things that other people pretend to run. The crucial choice of which intergenerational information is to be treated as computational grist is usually not made by educators or curriculum developers but by young engineers.

1 comment:

  1. Wow- this is thrilling and ominously dreadful at the same time.

    The way education and a deeply human ability are illuminated by the author's juxtaposition creates the kind of thrill that motivates one to protect a natural vista.

    The entanglement of the digital way...I didn't see it until now. I'm reeling in a bit of shock at seeing such danger for the first time.