Connacht Tribune - Opinion Piece
Technology is terrific – but how far is too far to go?July 4, 2012 - 8:35am
Technology has made life an awful lot simpler in so many ways – but it has also turned our brains to mush.
Does anyone, for example, remember anyone’s phone number anymore? No need to; they’re all safely stored in your mobile phone so you just have to call up their name – or indeed simply say their name if you have a smart phone – and you’re away.
And that’s fine until you accidently wash your mobile in the pocket of your jeans and have to go through the rigmarole of extracting your numbers and starting all over again.
There’s also the problem when you leave your mobile behind you – and only then do you discover that you don’t even know the number of your own house.
Equally, who knows how to add or subtract any longer? Why bother when every phone has a calculator and you can get technology to do it for you.
There’s a generation who will never know the frustration of a ready reckoner, that most boring of handbooks that carried a seemingly endless stream of numbers that the teachers told us were used to do ‘simple’ calculations, especially when applying discounts or interest to different sums.
And as for an abacus – that’s the numerical equivalent of having to start a fire with a piece of flint.
The art of shopping is even more advanced; where one a cashier pressed big buttons and pulled down a handle to add them all together, now you can just press the picture of the onions and away you go yourself.
It’s a long way from the grocer with the butt of a pencil and a scrap of paper, diligently adding up the prices and putting the cash into an old drawer under the weighing scales.
So you can see the obvious benefit of new, simple and smart technology – but the downside is that we no longer need to work our brains in the way that an older generation did. And that’s not necessarily a good thing.
The logical step, when it comes to education, is to forget about learning – or rote learning at least – and just know how to find the information or references you’re looking for. Because in real life, nobody expects you to know things by heart any longer – just where to google the answer you’re looking for.
From an exam point of view, it would seem far more beneficial to have a generation of students who knew where to find all of the information they might need than pupils who gambled on learning off a fraction of it for a short while so they could answer a question and then forger it.
But in the long-run, what do we need a brain for it we can keep coming up with technology and machines to do the work for us.
We have televisions you can shout at to change the channel and cars that drive themselves, on top of all of the mobile phone technology that already allows you to do things like your entire week’s shopping without leaving home.
For more, read this week's Connacht Tribune.