I start every day by sitting down at my desk and writing three pages longhand, also known as “Morning Pages”. Every so often, I’m reminding of the time I spent as a child learning to progress from the blocky printing I used in the beginning to the more flowing, streamlined cursive I’ve carried into my adult years.
With the increased use of tablets and notebook computers in classrooms, our educational system and those who make decisions for the “greater good” of all, have eliminated teaching longhand altogether, and I have to ask, “at what cost?”.
What You Lose By Disengaging Your Brain
I remember sitting through high school and college classes madly scribbling in a notebook, trying to capture the teachers’ words and meanings, as well as any diagrams they put on the board. The act of listening and transcribing had a positive effect on how well those words actually worked their way into my brain.
Notebooks and pens have been replaced by electronics in the classrooms. Diagrams and graphics are recorded with smart phones; words, with laptops or tablets. Some teachers even put the material online for the students to access with little to no effort.
It makes me wonder if kids today are simply memorizing and regurgitating information which, once spewed, will be lost in the void. Is their ability to delve into a topic and glean the gold buried within being stolen by oversimplification? Is too much time being spent memorizing facts, with too little time devoted to learning where to find things, and more importantly, how to reason?
A World Filled With Lemmings
By copying what they’re told without taking time to analyze it or even put it into their own words (you have to develop a kind of shorthand when you’re writing things out manually). Have we exchanged expediency for learning?
I taught my own daughters to question things whether they were simply unclear, or seemed outright implausible. Perhaps they’ve driven a few folks crazy in the process, but they know they’re own minds and neither is likely to mindlessly follow a pack. In fact, more often than not, they end up helping lead it!
Let the Teachers Teach
I have to believe most teachers would still like their students to think more and accept things as truth less. But many I speak to feel their hands are tied, or they’re hobbled by excessive paperwork and increasing requirements to CYA. By the time they get to retirement, they’re exhausted and frustrated.
So who really is making the rules our teachers must follow? What is their ultimate purpose? In whose best interests is it to raise a generation of mindless, cooperative drones without a single original idea in their heads?
If you ask me, our world needs those who question authority, ask for the proof behind what they’re being told, and do their own research when the answers they receive are unsatisfactory. We need the ones who see a problem and dig away at a solution anywhere they can; a garage, basement, or outdoor location where they can work undisturbed.
Move Learning Into the World
Talking to young parents and teachers, I’ve said on more than one occasion: If I were raising kids today, I’d home school them. What teachers in the public schools are allowed to give them today is nothing more than pureed propaganda.
Perhaps I’m being overly harsh, but if you ask me, it started long ago when the history books were filled with inaccuracies. It’s only being exacerbated by making it too easy to simply copy what the teacher is saying without having to put it into your own words in the process. So much understanding is lost by today’s spoon feeding tactics. We are deterring people from wanting to question, analyze, and change by tossing so much at them they simply tune out. Why bother to even try to make sense of it, if there is any in the first place, when it’s tossed at you fully formed, and exactly how you’re supposed to puke it back up on tests?
Testing for Understanding or Memorization?
Here again is a point of contention for me. Testing has always been skewed towards those who can sit quietly and pour what they’ve “learned” back out onto a photocopy or scantron. For kids with ADD, or anything which makes it difficult to focus in a silent, stimulus-free environment, it’s the worst scenario for demonstrating their knowledge effectively.
The crazy part is, those are the ones most likely to take issue with what’s been poured into their brains. My own girls drove me crazy with why’s, how’s, and what for’s. Sometimes I could answer, but more often, I’d help them look up the answer for themselves. They learned they didn’t have to accept what they were told as truth, but could consult different sources and learn to look at a problem from different angles.
In this regard, electronics have actually helped. You can access multiple sources in response to a question, and read several to determine, perhaps not the definitive answer, but ones which let you reason things out for yourself. Or it might lead to research on various aspects of the question. Either way, you have the opportunity to gain more knowledge, and to utilize critical thinking to arrive at something which is both fact-based and makes sense to you.
Encouraging Cognitive Reasoning
That isn’t to say the answer you reach will be right or wrong. It simply means you can justify it in your own mind based on your own knowledge and experience. Philosophically speaking, Truth is relative. It is extremely difficult to prove anything is true in all cases, given all variables. Scientists strive to find it when they subject their theories to different sets of variables. But will any one scientist, or even a large group ever manage to subject a theory to every single combination of variables possible?
Again, this is where your mind needs to be encouraged to expand, question, analyze, and challenge. If not, you risk accepting as truth what you’re told to believe. There’s already too much of this in the political arenas. Large groups of people believe something or someone because that’s what their parents believed. They don’t question or challenge, but allow themselves to be led like lambs to the slaughter, then blame it on whoever they’ve been taught to blame.
When “Big Brother” Isn’t There to Guide and Control
I shudder to think what will happen to the masses if they lose access to electronics. Will they be unable to function without guidance from someone out in cyberspace? Will they mill around like lemmings waiting to be led off a cliff, or prowl in angry circles like a caged cat, lashing out even at those who try to help them?
The picture isn’t pretty, and yet, with more and more people leaving mainstream education, I think there’s still hope of a better tomorrow.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I’ve proposed here. What’s happening in your world? Do you see children learning the basic arts of reason and research, or are more and more simply following where they’re led?
Grateful for the Lessons and Abilities I’ve Acquired
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful my daughters were raised in a time when longhand was still part of the curriculum.
- I’m grateful I learned to challenge, question, and research, and taught my daughters to do the same.
- I’m grateful there are still members of upcoming generations who aren’t content to follow mindlessly.
- I’m grateful for the opportunity to give people something to think about, wonder, and go hmmm.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, analysis, joy, challenges, questions, independence, free-thinking, expectations, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, community, friendship, health, peace, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a writer, blogger, ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats, and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward