The More High-Tech Education Becomes, The More Nature Our Children Need
I once met an instructor who trained young people to become the pilots of cruise ships. He described the two kinds of students he encounters. One kind grew up mainly indoors, spending hours playing video games and working on computers. These students are quick to learn the ship's electronics, a useful talent, the instructor explained. The other kind of student grew up spending a lot of time outdoors, often in nature. They, too, have a talent. "They actually know where the ship is."
He wasn't being cute. Recent studies of the human senses back that statement up. "We need people who have both ways of knowing the world," he added.
Currently, the force of economics is on the side of technology and standardized efficiency.
Optimistic researchers suggest that multitasking is creating the smartest generation yet, freed from limitations of geography, weather, and distance-pesky inconveniences of the physical world.
Others are skeptical, if not hostile to technology. In his book The Dumbest Generation, Mark Bauerlein, a professor at Emory University, reels out studies comparing this generation of students with prior generations, reporting "they don't know any more history or civics, economics or science, literature or current events"- despite all that available information. Other researchers believe that people who experience too much technology in their formative years experience stunted development of the frontal lobe, "ultimately freezing them in teen brain mode," as Maclean's magazine put it.
Here's a third possibility, what I call the hybrid mind. The ultimate multitasking is to live simultaneously in both the digital and physical worlds, using computers to maximize our powers to process intellectual data and natural environments to ignite our senses and accelerate our ability to learn and feel-combining the resurfaced "primitive" powers of our ancestors with the digital speed of our teenagers.
Want Students to Learn? Ignite the senses now
Scientists who study human perception no longer assume we have only five senses: taste, touch, smell, sight, and hearing. The number now ranges from a conservative 10 to as many as 30...