And gossip is more memorable than the evening news, according to a new study
Okay two points right off the bat.
1. I do agree that schools, as is the case in all human endeavors, have room for improvement.
2. I really try to look at both sides of an article and try to avoid imposing my opinions on readers of this blog, rather preferring to simply post and comment about articles that might challenge our own existing paradigms in case that might be a viable road to discovering "room for improvement" in our own practice.
That being said, I found so much to be annoyed about in this podcast and so little to be encouraged by. So, the best I can do before proceeding is to admit that the following comments might be unfairly biased.
Ok...Who says the ease of memorizing is the essential or valued metric in comparing literature to facebook or tweeting?
Is that different from "proving" that it's easier to get kids to eat candy than it is to eat vegetables? Or, to sit and play video games than to go outside and play? So what?
Of course it's easier to pay attention to what people we agree with say than to give serious consideration to what those with different opinions say.
I suppose it's easier to stay up to the minute on what the Kardashians are doing than what our senators are not doing about gun violence.
The path of least resistance requires the least challenge. But, imagine what kind of society we'd have if we determined what we would do based upon what was the easier of two options.
Where might we go if we chose not to face difficult challenges in favor of simple, wait, I meant simplistic, solutions to important issues?
Oh I don't know... I suppose we'd have serious ongoing and inadequately addressed problems with obesity, or narrow-mindedness, or racism, or poverty, or children's health, or rampant charlatanism; all issues that would continue unabated because they would require long term attentiveness to doing what's right.
BUT, does this mean that there's nothing worth considering in this podcast? I was intrigued by the reference to what Ms. Mickes refers to as "mind readiness." And I can't help but wonder how "mind readiness" relates to Vygotsky's "zone of proximal development."
At one level they seem to be very similar concepts in that there is a window of opportunity when thinking about things within our "readiness" zone for receptiveness. Speak to me in Croatian and I won't understand a word you say. Speak to me in Portuguese, and I won't understand a lot of what you say, but because I learned a bit of Spanish, I'll be able to listen for similarities I might notice between Spanish and Portuguese. But, of course that's still more difficult than if I just insisted that everything in the universe came to me in English.
I think the essential distinction between Ms Mickes' "mind readiness" concept and Vygotsky's "zone of proximal development" is the lack of attention to the shallowness of the implied suggestion that it's better "JUST because it's easier." Whereas, Vygotsy is suggesting that it's easier to go beyond if the challenge is "just beyond" what is easy.
The telling distinction is Ms. Mickes suggests that a valid proof is the ease of remembering gossip compared with the ease of remembering crafted articulations of important and often challenging issues.
If she had mentioned at least in passing that mind readiness provides a window of opportunity for contemplating what we think and care about so that drivel such as the Kardashian affairs and other gossip eventually fade in our world view in favor of mind readiness for more important issues, she might have been more apt to have discovered what Vygotsky discovered long before her.
So, a last thought...
Those who have read Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind or paid attention to Tony Wagner, and Sir Kenneth Robinson might recognize the case being built for the pending doom to professions and jobs that rely upon memorizing. We will never be able to compete with computers whose capability for memorizing is obsoleting memorizing as a valuable job skill.
So, if it is valid to first challenge this podcast's value by challenging the premise of "memorizability" as a point of weakness in reading literature and a point of strength in reading facebook and twitter, then what single premise would you use when comparing the reading of literature to the reading of facebook and twitter?
And even more challenging, what value might we actually take in accepting the possibility that ease of memorization might actually increase retention?