27 January 2008

Comment on 'Internet Dark Age'

Origionally posted on the American Thinker website.

- letter to the editor -

I don't agree completely with Mr. Lawrence's reasoning. It seems that his argument centers on human interaction and intelligence being the product of input. Thus the "garbage in, garbage out" analysis.

I would argue that rather than wax nostalgic over a time we cannot return to, it is more productive to consider how to handle the world that we have. Mr. Lawrence comments that children in school do not feel the need to learn nor are made to learn mundane things like times tables. This is a result of educational philosophy that if students are able to analyze and synthesize data, then the mundane things, like addition, multiplication, spelling, writing, will fall into place necessarily. Most students are apt to collapse when asked to perform these mundane tasks in isolation, or even as part of their "higher order thinking". They simply have not mastered basic thinking. They are, for the most part, houses built on mud.

And while this is a sad state, it is also very correctable. A fundamental shift in educational philosophy away from concentrating on higher-end Blooms taxonomy and allowing students to create their own realities. Instead, expecting students to master fundamental skills like times tables, sentence construction, reading comprehension - in short, basic truths - prepares them to deal with the avalanche of information, good and bad, that is out there. Mastering these basic realities, I believe, would also fortify students against the corruptive elements in our world today.

The generation in danger is not one that is exposed to the internet or video games or violent television. The generation in danger is one that has lost the capacity for critical thinking, one that has not been taught how to think. And that, obviously, is something we can all take positive steps to correct, if we choose.
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A Side Thought - One of the ironic things about the above referenced story was that, waiting for me (and probably many others) at the end of the web page was an auto-generated Google ad for "Dark Ages Ringtones" which I thought was quite appropriate, given the subject matter.

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