External Brain Drive

November 4, 2011 § Leave a comment

Nowadays, everyone likes to joke how Google is their second brain, or perhaps ridicule Google for making us so lazy.  At the rate which information is increasing these days, it is becoming impractical for people to be expected to remember any significant portion, which is why people rely on search engines for knowledge.  Simply having that knowledge in the brain is not much of an advantage over someone who can find the information in a minute or two.

Toward that end, society and academia will refocus itself over the next fifty years.  Learning will no longer be about accruing information and memorizing it for tests, but knowing how to find and process information.  Of course, much of schooling has this goal nowadays, where teachers don’t want their students to simply memorize but to actually comprehend and digest.  But for most students, learning how to learn is actually the most useful—if not the only—thing which will be remembered well and utilized later in life.

Of course some colleges or schools will resist the change–there’s certainly an argument to be made for remaining independent of the internet, or having information at the front of the mind rather than online.  But certainly a new major, the Science of Learning, could develop, in which students would be given a series of tests over the semester in a variety of subjects, say physics, art, English, history, and the tests would be timed but completely open resource so that the actual skill being tested is finding and processing information.  Imagine if people could become so good at simply learning and information became so readily available that someone, without having seen them before, could find Maxwell’s Equations and apply them to a situation just by learning about them online.  That’s what the Science of Learning would teach how to do.

But then again, maybe I’m just tired of memorizing formulas and facts.



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