We’re Losing Our Minds
A few days ago I was listening to NPR and they were doing a segment on how technology affects memory. Unsurprisingly, our ability to access great amounts of information very quickly is making it less necessary for us to use straight memorization, and for the most part we seem to be losing the skill. Kids aren’t asked to memorize multiplication tables in school anymore, we don’t know people’s phone numbers, a bunch of small things that tend to worry a lot of us old folks who remember the days when we had to memorize these things.
However what researchers seem to be finding about the way our brains work with technology is that the lack of straight memorization frees up our brains to do higher order thinking. Instead of spending school memorizing, we spend school being taught how to think, how to make connections, how to find deeper understandings, how to analyze, synthesize and criticize.
Personally I think this is wonderful, although at the same time I wonder whether we’ll be able to use these higher level thinking skills if we don’t have the memorized knowledge at our fingertips. For example I know that I think best with a mixture of these types of brain function. I hear a new piece of information, I remember something that I already knew, I fill in other kinds of information that I already knew, and I use my higher order thinking to put it all together. This becomes far more difficult when you have to search for the pieces of information you want. So while I do understand that the need for memory is lessened, I think we should still teach our children how to memorize because it allows them more information available for their analysis.
So I’m curious- how do you see technology as affecting the way you think and remember? Do you like it? Do you think it’s overall beneficial or not?