Tag Archives: learning

Technology and the Brain

Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal (“Does the Internet Make You Dumber?” by Nicholas Carr) and the New York Times (“Hooked on Gadgets, and Paying a Mental Price” by Matt Richtel) both ran articles on people whose mental agility was suffering from too much information all the time from the Internet. Both articles could leave the impression that technology is a real problem for people and has primarily negative consequences.

But people use their technology in very different ways, so it’s very important to carefully sort out exactly what these articles are saying . . . and what they’re not saying.

The Wall Street Journal article focuses on the results of constant distraction and interruption: an increase in “visual literacy skills” at the cost of less rigorous thought.

One story is told of a class at Cornell University in which some students could use Internet-connected laptops during a lecture, while other students had to shut their computers. Carr notes that the students who browsed the Web had less retention. But the article doesn’t address what happened if students took notes on their laptops vs. taking notes by hand. Notes taken with a laptop could potentially be more detailed (if one is a fast typist) and more legible – and therefore lead to greater and deeper understanding. This, however, is not addressed.

Carr contrasts the Internet and books, saying, “Reading a long sequence of pages helps us develop a rare kind of mental discipline.” Some of the use to which people put the Internet is reading long pages of journal articles and in-depth email communications. The Internet and “scattered” do not have to coincide. It’s perhaps a bit ironic that Carr doesn’t acknowledge that people are using the Internet to read the very article in which he is saying that using the Internet is making us lose our mental discipline!

Richtel’s article—which, being quite a bit longer than Carr’s, invites the reader to an even more in-depth and thoughtful experience—reports the tale of a man who overlooked the most important communication of his life in an overflowing email inbox. It broadens out to discuss his family and the effects that technology is having on their individual lives and family life.

Richtel discusses the stimulation provided by multitasking and an ongoing flow of information and the lasting effects becoming inured to being barraged can have on the brain and on the person’s extra-Internet life, with disconnected thoughts and inability to focus. Because the family Richtel focuses on is struggling with gadget over-use (addiction?) the article has a negative tone overall.

Both articles make the point that it is possible to use technology in ways that affect our brains, our work, and our family lives for the worse. What they don’t aim to do is show the other side of the picture. And that is why it’s very important for the reader to approach these articles with thought and care—to see what they’re saying and what they’re not saying. Once that’s clear, then considering whether one wants to make a change in the way one is using technology is a good thing to consider.

Teaching Children to Read

I recently read an article about a San Francisco clothing company called Miss Do Gooder who designs clothing to help charitable causes. Their latest effort is teaming up with First Book, a company dedicated to providing new books to children across America and Canada. The t-shirts have a Miss Do-Gooder cartoon character promoting literacy. They will give First Book $2.50, which equates to one new book for a child, for every t-shirt they sell. This article prompted me to check into the well known Hooked on Phonics program and have an article featuring this product on our educationbug.org website.

If we do not prepare our children for school by teaching them how to read we are doing them a terrible disservice as once they do start school they will be at a disadvantage to those whose parents chose to help their child learn how to read. With the student teacher ratios increasing all the time we cannot expect teachers to be the only source of educating our children about reading. Teaching our children to read does not always have to be a chore or a mundane routine of a set time period to sit down and read a book, although this is a great idea to implement as well to get children into the habit of reading. There are great ways to have fun teaching our children to read. There are a ton of learning games you can play with your children and they will not even realize they are being educated in the process.

Starting a Preschool

Starting a Preschool – At EducationBug.org we have many featured articles and here in our blog we like to feature an article or category on occasion. Today, we are featuring our article on how to start a preschool.

This article contains tips on how to organize a group of parents to start a preschool group. There are many types and methods of preschools and lots of things to consider. This gives a brief overview on how to get started.

We also have many other articles on preparing for school as well as many others on various preschool topics. Our series on getting your child ready for school is written by a staffer with a M. Ed. in reading education and licensed teacher in the Vermont education system . They are top notch articles packed with great information for parents of children who are just getting ready to start school.

We also give parents ideas on learning games and how they can make education fun through use of card games and other methods. Learning doesn’t have to be boring anymore! Get your child ready for school by making the process more exciting.

Do you have a child ages 1-5? Get information at EducationBug.org today on preschool, kindergarten, and more! We have hundreds of articles and hundreds of thousands of profiles on education institutions across the United States.