We live in an information age. Big deal. It becomes more obvious each day that information is not intelligence.
People have never had more access to information than they do now. The internet has changed the world. Well…it has provided the ingredients for change anyway.
It consistently amazes me how we can have so much information and lack the ability to make simple common sense decisions. The only reasonable answer for why this happens is what I have said. Information is not intelligence. Thinking seems optional in far too many educational institutions.
There are other things that are not intelligence.
- Education is not intelligence
- Potential is not intelligence
- Regurgitation is not intelligence
My job as a parent is to train my children to think for themselves. To check the evidence and make an informed, hopefully intelligent decision. I don’t care what the topic is. I want them to think intelligently about it.
Enemies of Brain Training
There are some things in our society that actually fight against training our brains. Imagine all the information we have available to us. Now imagine that information technology stacks the deck against us profiting by it!
There are several things available to us today which actually hamper true learning and brain development in our children. Here are some of them.
Excessive screen time –
Experts have asserted for a while that excessive screen time, especially early on, is harmful to brain development. You can do your own research if you want. Here are some links to get you started:
From my parenting experience, I have observed how excessive screen time can rob children of their creativity and imagination. Out door play, and imaginative play, is great for their thinking and reasoning skills. Video games do not strengthen either of those skill to the same degree.
GOOGLE (or any other search engine) –
Some people think computers will one day rule the world. I am not one of those people. I love technology, and the convenience of information at our fingertips. When faced with a question, I am very often likely to reach for my phone. “Okay Google…” Am I alone in that?
The problem? Well, it could actually be argued that the internet makes us think we are smarter than we actually are. In fact, there was a study done a few years ago that attempted to prove that very point. Here is an article referring to that study.
Want to read the actual article? Here it is.
I remember a family friend who expressed frustration at trying to teach his son about changing the oil in his car. The young man, around 20 years of age, proudly announced that he didn’t need to learn it. He had Google, and if he ever needed to know, he would just look it up.
This of course assumes that Google will always be there; and that is exactly what we do. We assume that the source of knowledge we call the internet, will always be available. This thinking is both short-sighted and ignorant. Knowledge born out of education and backed up by experience will serve us well throughout life. Take away the internet, and I wonder how much we really know.
Echo Chambers –
Echo chambers are places where your own thoughts and ideas are constantly echoed back to you. Whatever you say, is whatever you hear. In an echo chamber you won’t expect to hear anything different from what you have always said, because that is not how an echo chamber works.
Far too many young people grow up in an echo chamber. They are never challenged in their view or their thinking. They are surrounded only by people who think and say exactly what they already believe.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. I am certainly not suggesting throwing your little lamb to the wolves in the hope they will learn to be better and stronger. However, I am suggesting that ignoring the fact that wolves exist, or refusing to talk about wolves, and their mindsets and ideas, may not be preparing our little lambs for the real world.
All that being said, knowledge alone is not the goal. We are trying to raise children who both have the knowledge, and know how to apply it. At the same time, we are trying to raise children who are not afraid to explore or entertain ideas without actually accepting them. We want the to think for themselves, and if necessary, by themselves, and arrive at conclusions and beliefs from within a logical framework. We want to teach them the skill of hearing out someone with an oppossing view, or read a book by an author which challenges their view. When they have listened or read after these people, we want them to do one or more of the following:
- Set aside the information as inconsistent with their understanding and beliefs.
- Adjust their thinking or beliefs based on some of all of what they have heard or read. In other words, we want them to recognize if they have been mistaken, and then be willing to adjust their point of view.
- Defend their decision with logic and reason.
More on this in our next post…