Friday, May 30, 2008

Children will learn by 'downloading' information???


I'm intrigued by the vision of Chris Parry, chief executive of the Independent Schools Council in Britain.

Children will learn by downloading information directly into their brains within 30 years, an education expert has predicted.

Chris Parry, the new chief executive of the Independent Schools Council, said "Matrix-style" technology would render traditional lessons obsolete.

He said: "It's a very short route from wireless technology to actually getting the electrical connections in your brain to absorb that knowledge."

Mr Parry, a former Rear Admiral, spent three years determining the future strategic context for the military in a senior role at the Ministry of Defence.

He said the Keanu Reeves thriller may not look like science fiction in 30 years' time.

"Within 30 years, sitting down and learning something will be a thing of the past," Mr Parry said.

"I think people will be able to directly access, Matrix-style, all the vocabulary you need for a foreign language, leaving you just to clear up the grammar."


Thought-provoking, certainly: but I question whether this can work in reality. After all, both the USA and England are faced with the reality that almost half the children who leave school are functionally illiterate. They simply haven't learned while they were there.

Can a hi-tech method of feeding information directly into their brain actually make them take it in, and understand it, and learn how to apply it?

I say not. What's your take, readers?

Peter

9 comments:

Brad J (Kazrak) said...

Not a chance.

Just having all the data isn't enough. You need to know the connections and the meaning, how it relates to things you understand. You need to know how to apply the information, because sheer knowledge is never enough.

Having the entire contents of a calculus book embedded in your head won't help you do calculus if you don't know algebra cold. Not just have that book embedded too, but have applied it, practiced it, embraced it until you can do it without needing to think through the details. And to do all that work with algebra, you need to know arithmetic. Again, not just memorizing the book -- you need to apply it, work with it, become one with it until you just know it. Going the other way, you need to practice that calculus if you ever want to have a chance with differential equations.

And that's just mental skills. Think that having that book embedded there will help you play a sport any better? Drive a car? Play an instrument? Draw a picture?

On the plus side, it'll play merry hell with the usual testing procedures for history. No sense testing for dates and presidents when everybody's got the list built-in. They might have to (gasp) test for actual understanding of the content.

Harrison said...

In another 300 years I figure that Parry guy will be listed in a book (or whatever) about weird eccentrics of the 21st century. Even fe-lyings know ya' gotta' learn by doin'--as in can openers equal food.

Christina LMT said...

I think 30 years is a pipe dream, but I believe we are certainly headed there. And as I love SF, I think it's totally cool!

Bryn, North Wales, UK said...

And who gets to programme what our children learn by this method? What a wonderful tool for producing compliant subjects with no grasp of personal freedom. I would not trust any politician anywhere on this planet not to misuse this potentially very powerful educational tool. If these educational headsets become a reality, how long before wearing them become compulsory for everyone?
Come back 1984, all is forgiven: George Orwells vision looks like a paradise by comparison to what this concept could do to humanity.

Anonymous said...

THere area a few to many dystopian and cyberpunk stories based around this premise for me to be comfortable with it.
Analysis and skill at using the data do not come from books.
And besides, we all know what the teenagers would be downloading, and it has very little to do with history, math or engineering! ;)
LittleRed1

Dano said...

Nope. Its integration that makes knowledge useful. Basic information doesn't do anything, its how it relates and work that matters.

Anonymous said...

Sounds a lot like "Brave New World" by Aldous Huxley.

"I'm so proud to be a gamma!"

The lefties will really be able to indoctrinate the kids then.

-- chicopanther

KD5NRH said...

Combining raw data with understanding, OTOH, would be nice; imagine just popping in an SD card or whatever with the contents of the CRC Handbook, and being able to access all the data at will. Adding in a calculator and some basic data-entry processes would be nice too.

I'd want to be able to verify all the data before it goes in, though; no direct live connections for me.

makeumdothechicken said...

I agree with previous posters that the attainment of knowledge alone will not necessarily result in the individuals ability to apply it.

I find two things disturbing about this concept. I think it would give who ever is providing this downloaded information the opportunity to change the opinions and moral convictions of the recipient. Scary stuff.

The other issue is that information and knowledge will be given to people who naturally lacked the discipline, work ethic and self control to obtain it through natural means. I work in law enforcement and I can tell you that there are a lot of very evil people out there who are only limited by their ignorance. A predator or criminal with an extensive knowledge base that he could access and apply would be next to impossible to stop. Look how long it took to catch the unabomber.