Mental Exercise

I had my blood drawn today. When I registered, I was asked to confirm my home telephone number.  I had to stop and think for a moment.  I couldn't quite remember.  I never dial that number.  The only time I call home I use my cell phone.  I click on favorites and then my wife's name.  The phone automatically dials the assigned number.

I can remember a dozen phone numbers of friends from my youth but not my own.

I often wonder how technology changes how we use our minds and what the consequences are for learning, education and schools.

When I was six, I started bowling with friends on Saturday mornings.  We all learned to keep score using pencil and paper.  That was my first practical application of addition.  There's no need to learn how to keep a bowling score now because a computer does it automatically.

When I was 10 or 12, I worked at my brother's concession stand at the local ball diamond.  We didn't have a cash register. We kept a pencil and paper at the check out stand to figure out charges and change when we couldn't do it in our head.  Modern, inexpensive cash registers make these calculations for you.

My friends and I had an APBA baseball league (a forerunner of fantasy leagues) for three or four years.  We created our own box scores and standings.  Countless websites now crunch all these numbers for the fantasy sports aficionado.

The list goes on and on.

We are exercising our minds when we use technology but different parts than when we do things manually.  For instance, a Silver Creek math teacher told me that a calculator stimulates the linguistic side of the brain not the mathematical portions.  I have not fact checked that claim but I can imagine it is true.

What parts of our brains are stimulated by technology? What parts of our brains are less stimulated now that we do less manually? What are the consequences for learning and development?

I know there is research that speaks to these questions.  I know that popular books such as Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind and Steven Johnson's Everything Bad Is Good for You have been written on this type of topic.

From a board and district perspective, there is one more question: What changes are needed to account for these new realities?


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