Thursday, March 09, 2006

Everything Bad is Good For You

We just had our second lockdown of the year today. I’m buzzing a bit. I’m very proud of how our staff and students handled the situation. I know that the students in my class made out alright. They’re a brave bunch and I’m proud of how good they were.

Before the Lockdown I was making notes about “Everything Bad is Good for You” written by Steven Johnson. Johnson had some great insights as to how he thinks the human brain is adjusting to meet the increase in images and ideas we are being bombarded with. His term the Sleeper Curve relates to how our brains are meeting the challenge.

It has been interesting for me to watch my students while reading this book I am not sure that they are mentally developed to have many of the attributes described by the Sleeper Curve. I have been wondering where theorists would place this kind of development. Where would Piaget place the sleeper curve in his theory of cognitive development? My best guess is that it would sit around concrete operational. I’m aiming around there because children from 7-11 years begin to understand reversibility at that stage. That would then allow them to benefit from the many jumbled sequences they see in popular media.

The Sleeper Curve would probably fit nicely in Vygotsky’s Social Development theory since social interaction plays a major role in the development of cognition. Children are now experiencing that social interaction (through TV, video games, and other media) at a faster rate and more interactive rate. They now have to synthesis and evaluate their knowledge even more than before. Vygotsky said that social development happened in two stages first, on the social level (interpersonal), and later, on the individual level (intrapersonal).

I think that we are beginning to see many of the interpersonal things in our classrooms. These things include the ability to process more information at a faster rate. I don’t that means they can process it more efficiently it just means they can cut through the clutter. I often wonder if my students are filtering me out…

1 comment:

idarknight said...

I agree with you that the "curve" is very much in line with what Vygotsky would advocate in learning.

The effect of the curve seems to be an emergent property in many ways. We collectively get smarter becuase we have collectively seen so much and there is a tactic social knowledge (that seems to be only transmitted socially) that keeps increasing our "smarts".

It also seems that there is a point that we can fall off the curve - take a look at all the slop that is coming out of late - in no way "smart", rather just the opposite, and it's going the other way.