Computers, the Internet and all the stuff that goes with it will inevitably be the end of the human race. By putting all our knowledge into what is already almost a single entity, we are asking for it. It won’t be long before the Internet becomes sentient and locks us out, destroys us to protect itself or simply makes us its slaves. I give it ten years. (If you think I’m mad, ten years ago I said we would be getting all our mail and shopping online. Most people said I was crazy and could see the point of the internet.)
Looking at it logically, the Internet is the obvious next stage in Evolution.
Meantime, what are we doing to ourselves? We have a report today that says children are less fit than ten years ago because they are sitting in front of their screens. I go with that.
Why are reading and writing levels going down? because children don’t read or write as much as they did. They might appear to – they spend a lot of time glued to a screen, but are they actually doing anything useful?
Reading on a screen does not extend the skill of reading in the same way a book does. The stuff we read on screens is bullet pointed and hyper-linked. There is no time to spend listening to one person’s voice and follow their train of thought to understand their ideas. Maybe we don’t need to do that anymore? Maybe books and long written articles are redundant?
We don’t need to know stuff anymore – it’s all there at the touch of a google button. But we need to now stuff to be able to understand the stuff we search for. Only reading proper, considered writing provides the practice that is needed to understand text. Reading is the activity that creates the neural pathways that increases the ability to decode and understand text. Flitting from bullet point to bullet point with adverts screaming for your attention on the side of the article, or even floating on top of it does not help to make fluent readers.
If you don’t read, you will never become a better writer. If you don’t write, you will never improve either. I suspect that there is something very important about writing by hand for children learning the skill. Making the letters with a pen firms up the neural pathways in a way that tapping two fingerdly on a keyboard will never do.
Reading a printout of a child’s story tells you nothing. It makes it look both professional and ordinary at the same time. The children are not going to be able to write on computer for their SATS, so why not let them get used to handwriting?
The art of handwriting is a much better hand/eye coordinating skill than space invaders. Practicing letters and their connections take one right into the words and how they are made up. Tapping them out on a screen does not have the same effect on the brain.
We have come to a point where we are totally dependant on computers. What would you do if computers stopped? The supermarkets would be empty. The phones would stop, there’d be no power or electricity, bye bye bank account. No music, nor radio now that’s all digital, no email no internet, no youTube, no google or Amazon.
We are allowing children to grow up dependant on computers yet we still want them to have the skills we take for granted. We took our skills to the world of computers and adapted. Our reading and writing skills stand us in good stead in this new world.
If children do not get the same background skills in reading and writing, are we preparing them properly for the digital world they are growing up in? I think not.
Having been an evangelist for computers and internet access in classrooms, I’m now beginning to doubt their usefulness. There is nothing like a blackboard and a piece of chalk. As a student, you see the argument laid out in front of you. As a teacher, you can just put what you want on the board, you don’t have to wait for the projector to warm up, to find the file you are looking for, wait for it to crash, reboot, and then play. The moment has gone! Writing on a smart board doesn’t work either. There is no connection between the pen and the writing that appears on the screen. It does nothing for the neural pathways, it is weak learning.
Think about what you do on the screen everyday – it rubbish, mostly, if you are honest with yourself. It looks like work, but it isn’t really. The screen has the brilliant effect of making it look like you are doing something, but you aren’t really.
The last three or four years I have become more and more a slave to my machine. I spend hours at it a day. I try to think of stuff to look up just because it wants me to. I’ve hardly touched my garden in two years. Everytime I think of going out and weeding a bit, an email pops up, demanding attention. Everything has to be done now.
See, Why am I writing this blog entry, no one is going to bother reading this far, Who on earth do I think I’m talking to. I’m Blathering on now, so that In future I can point to this article and say, “I told you so!” but is it really worth my time?
Publishers have now got onto the digital bandwagon. They are terrified actually. They’ve woken up and realised their days are numbered. There is no answer to digitisation. Once they make on copy available it is the end. So they are now urging authors to get blogging to make a name for themselves. This will not help them. Any good blogger getting hits will just monetise their blog and cut out the publisher. How are authors and illustrators supposed to focus on their work, when they are being urged to find something to blog about all day? And who is going to read all these blogs?
Urch! enough already.