Some thoughts about our brains (Lyda)

I just heard an interview on NPR with the author of a book called The Shallows. What the Internet Is Doing to Our Brains. Nicholas Carr, the author contends that the very way we use the internet – the flitting around from email to Google, site to site – is diminishing our ability to sit still and to absorb the material we read. He says that the better our brain gets at moving here and there when thinking about things, the less talented our brain becomes at simply soaking up information of any depth from one source. Wow. Is that why I feel it’s so hard to sit still these days? And why writing a journal entry takes so long when there are the temptations of email and Facebook lurking along the edges of my computer screen? Maybe. And if it’s hard for me, what does that say about teens who spend so much time moving around the technology offerings out there? Are they taking in anything when they sit still? Can they sit still? And are their brains developing in a whole new way so that ultimately they will create a new world that makes much more sense to them?
Carr does not offer any conclusive answers in his book, but the questions he raises are considerable, and certainly they pertain to the students we will teach in our classrooms. How do we effectively teach children whose brains may actually be developing in a new way? And that brings me to Lalitha’s question: “How can we know adolescents by understanding their literacies?”
As we’ve said countless times, our students today are so adept, so fearless in their use of technology. We learn they are inquisitive and confident. Their communication may not always make sense to us, but they make sense to them, and rather than shaking our heads and saying “those kids today” I suppose we need to jump in and try to learn more about their language and literacies so we can in the end learn more about them.
I mean, why Twilight? Why anime? What’s the appeal of Twitter? My feeling is definitely “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em!’ Or maybe we shouldn’t be trying to beat them in the first place. We can still have our reservations about Twilight and Twitter (or maybe not?) and be their teachers. After all, we can offer some adult measure of thoughtfulness when necessary(even if we can’t sit still ourselves for too long these days). But I want to learn how to play their games, and use their technology so I too will be unafraid. I don’t want to talk about it – I want to do it…. again and again, so I can really remember how, and feel assured. That’s the way we learn about our students. We need speak their language as best we can. And hopefully our brains will be okay….


~ by littlegoatproductions on June 2, 2010.

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