Perhaps the day will come when human beings attach their brains to the Internet and become one with the digitized knowledge-base. Billionaires are investing in this kind of research, and the science is fascinating, bizarre, and frightening.
But here's my take: until that time, the human being with a knowledge base in their brain will always have access to greater power and greater joy than the human being with all of it on the Internet.
For example, if I teach in Montana where Indian Education for All is legally required, and I know the names of all the tribes and reservations and I know the eight essential understandings of Indian education and I know what culturally-responsive pedagogy is — in other words, if this knowledge exists in my brain and is accessible whenever I'd like to use it — then I'm going to do better work around IEFA and I'm going to have more joy in doing it. The knowledge in my head will make the work more relevant, more interesting, more engaging. It'll also be less likely to be tedious, troublesome, and confusing.
More power, more joy.
Similarly, back when I started writing about the Common Core, it was one thing for me to know that the Common Core existed and to read a book like Calkins et al's Pathways to the Common Core, but it was another for me to gain firsthand knowledge reading the standards for myself and writing about them, and then it was still another even better thing for me to reduce them into the timeless six things I think we're all wise to focus on.
What changed in those three scenarios — me hearing and reading about Common Core, me reading the standards themselves and then writing about them, and me reducing the standards into something a mortal can teach? Well, lots of things — not the least of which is that what I knew about the standards in my head (vs in a book or in someone else's words) grew, strengthened, and cohered.
And as a result of building my knowledge, I gained greater power and greater joy in my work.
So even though it is common to theorize that any information retrievable on a smartphone is not information that a student should be given the chance to learn, let's think harder than this. And enough about what our students need to know — let's talk about what our students, all of them, will get to know thanks to the knowledge-rich, coherent, and logically-sequenced curricula on which we build our schools.
Equitable outcomes can happen no other way.
*By the way, woe to us when all we care about teaching our students is what they'll “need.” This is an impoverished view of education.
I work at a high school that sees phones largely as nuisance devices and distractions… We have Yondr pouches which are ineffective as the students know how to break them open. There is no way I can be as engaging as a smartphone. The students largely ignore my lessons and stare at the phones all day… even if it means failure. Failure is nothing new to these students as we are a “last chance” school.
As teachers we are in a Catch 22 situation as we have no power to discipline and yet the imperative to enforce the rules. On the topic, the book (Feed) by MT Anderson captures the topic perfectly as in his novel, Teens have the internet wired into their brains and that is pretty much where we are headed.
B Butler says
Reading your post, and the comment above make me so glad our staff decided to adopt a no-phone zone for our middle school during school hours. Yes,it’s a battle every day. Yes, we see phones out every day. Yes, we can (and will) do better at enforcing our policy. BUT. I know we are doing the right thing teaching students boundaries, limiting their (our!) addictions, and modeling the importance of connecting face to face with real humans. It makes me wonder if it should be a policy all schools adopt.