“Smarter Than You Think”

Looks like there’s a dissenting voice to Nicholas Carr’s findings in The Shallows: I just saw this interview with Clive Thompson, whose new book is called Smarter Than You Think: How Technology is Changing Our Minds for the Better.

It sounds like the two authors agree that technology is changing our brains – but based on this interview, Thompson believes we gain more than we lose. I’m interested in this concept of “ambient awareness,” especially in my work as a therapeutic educator. Does interpreting social media updates help us interpret face-to-face social behavior? Does the greater stream of information translate into a greater understanding of others’ thoughts and feelings?

I’m curious to see whether Carr and Thompson use any of the same data to reach different conclusions. Adding Smarter Than You Think to my to-read list.

The Good Old Days

This concept has been on my mind as I explore the idea that technology lessens our relationships, hurts our brains, and brings a whole host of other negative impacts. Randall Monroe of the webcomic XKCD lets the primary sources speak for themselves:


I don’t think we should ignore the potentially negative impacts of progress and technology. We should examine their impacts, implement tools intentionally, and be mindful of how we are affected. But let’s stop talking about the “good old days.”

Quick thought: what works in public schools?

 As an independent school teacher, I’m often grateful that I don’t have to deal with the bureaucracy and brokenness of public school.
Lately though, I’ve been wondering about the parts of public schools that do work, and how I can export some of those elements to my own practice.

I know I don’t want grades, but there’s something to be said for accountability that goes beyond pass/fail. I know I want students to be engaged and hands-on learners, but there’s something to be said for learning how to listen to a lecture and take notes. Being an independent school gives me the freedom to do things completely differently from “traditional” school – but does that mean I should, all the time? 

Balance is key, of course.  But this quick thought is one I’m going to carry with me planning for the fall.

photo credit: I, Timmy via photo pin cc