September 27, 2013

The Point of Viewless

"We have become so used to the constant availability of secondary research
that we no longer desire for primary research,
thus also failing to develop an opinion of our own."

I wrote the above sentence as a conclusion to an interesting conversation I had  about how we are quite unaware of the negative impact technology has on our lives and in particular on education, which was somewhat confirmed by the recent introduction of 'iPad-schools'.
As I grew up the importance of technology and the internet grew along with me. I also think certain things became available at the exact right time. There were limited distractions and as a student a lot of preparation, planning and effort went into studying to make sure we had the right resources and knowledge available at the right time. Because back then, information was not always within reach.

Nowadays we are ALWAYS connected to the internet and so ALL information is right there WHEN we need it. No hustle, no hurries, no worries. We no longer (read: to a lesser extend) learn the materials but are taught how to learn. Problem solving, so that no matter the subject we could grab any device (or book) and find the information needed and structure our research in such a way that it leads to a sufficient answer for our problem. Which unlike our parents has the advantage that we are not limited in knowledge to the specific materials taught to us.

And now the lack of a sense of urgency. Do you read all your literature? Do you follow all classes and make all your homework? Do you eagerly participate in class, make notes and listen to everything the teacher says?
I am not suggesting that we do not or are at least not trying to do so, but let us be honest. Why read the whole book when you can look up keywords or hit "ctrl + f" to find the relevant paragrap? As for the teacher, Youtube has plenty of those too and they do not only give lectures in the morning. We look for the information we need at the time when we need it. Need an asnwer? Ask the internet. Somehow, we have lost the will to construct an answer ourselves and if we lost that much than what do we base our opinions on, whose arguments do we use. Do we perceive things from our own point of view or somebody else's?

Also, our focus has a significant shorter time span thanks to this constant connectivity. When we become only the slightest bit of disinterested in our current activity something else is always within reach and so we change back and forth between the things we do like, because even if we do miss out on something important we just as easily catch up on it. Multitasking is a myth of course, in reality you switch your focus from one thing to another. There is no such thing as following a lecture and chatting with your digital friends all at the same time.

To conclude, my almost-four-year-old daughter will soon start on her NOT 'iPad-school' because first; she needs to learn to pay attention and focus on one thing for a prolonged period of time, secondly; I want her to think about stuff until her brain hurts before she consults other sources and last but not least; I want that she creates her own point of view based on the things she perceives herself. Do not get me wrong. I do think that technology is an absolute blessing and not a day goes without catching up on its developments but when it comes to our own development and the quality of interactions with fellow human-beings it certainly is not always a step forward.

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