The interwebs ruined my brain

Cathy Davidson of HASTAC has written a sensible article in response to the recent flurry of gloom and doom reactions to how the internet is ruining our brains. She also has a book forthcoming: “Now You See It: How the Brain Science of Attention Will Transform the Way We Live, Work and Learn”

It’s sensible because she reminds us that much of what is happening is not neurophysiological but sociological, and because she is more interested in what we do now than in bemoaning how we have gotten here. Here’s an example:

“Do kids pay attention differently now? No. Because they didn’t learn any other way of paying attention. Do they pay attention differently than their parents did? Probably. And their parents paid attention differently than theirs.  The brain is always changed by what it does.  That’s how we learn, from infancy on, and that’s how a baby born in New York has different cultural patterns of behavior, language, gesture, interaction, socialization, and attention than a baby born the same day in Beijing. That’s as true for the historical moment into which we are born as it is for the geographical location.  Our attention is shaped by all we do, and reshaped by all we do.  That is what learning is.  The best we can do as educators is find ways to improve our institutions of learning to help our kids be prepared for their future–not for our past.”

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