Friday, January 6, 2012

Content –v- meaning: disrupting our thinking

There are a lot of interesting ideas in The Shallows by Nicholas Carr and today I’ve been thinking about how the Web affects our concentration, how it disrupts our attention.   While I can appreciate the general trends that Carr writes about, and while I feel I’m more alert to how these trends may affect my students, I’m not really sure how relevant many of these are to me personally – though this may be because the whole of my schooling and half the time that I’ve been teaching happened before I started using the internet.

Today I’ve been considering content and meaning, in particular as part of an inquiry based programme like the PYP which is concept rather than content based and which involves students constructing their own meaning.  We provide our students with both online and print resources for them to use in their investigations, and of course many of the online resources have links to other web pages too.  Are we hurrying our students through these pages?  Do the links encourage them to move on from the resource pages we direct them to?  Has the way that I’ve taught students to search within a web page using the Command-F keys actually encouraged a superficial reading of the page, as students go straight to the relevant section which is connected with the content they are searching for?  Am I also guilty of promoting the trend identified by Nicholas Carr when he writes: “The strip mining of relevant content replaces the slow excavation of meaning”? 

There is a lot of information out there.  I’m wondering: do I need to give students more time to reflect on it and go deeper with their thinking?

Photo Credit:  Shadow existence by Daniela Hartmann AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike 

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