Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Endangered Minds

Nicholas Carr's article yesterday reminded me of a book I had to read for my NJWP certification.  The book was called Endangered Minds by Jane Healy (link courtesy of Amazon). It was originally published in 1990 and I'm not sure how many people read it today.  But that long ago, Ms. Healy was talking about some of the same issues as Carr's current article.

I remember the one point that stuck with me had to do with television viewing habits of kids.  My daughter was young at the time and I had let her--matter of fact, encouraged her-- to watch shows like Sesame Street if she watched tv.  Well, Healy's assertion about these sorts of shows contributing to our changing brains really scared me!  All I could think was "What have I done???"  The short, quick bursts on these shows are  not allowing developing brains to grow and develop the plasticity needed for long term concentration and reading.  And I had thought I was being such a good mom by only letting her watch educational tv!

The short catchy bits of Sesame Street and shows like it were just the beginning.  This same generation now uses the Internet regularly and now the Internet is being blamed for the same thing.  This generation doesn't stand a chance!  Too much skimming rather than long, deep reading prevents us from developing the skills we need to read in depth.   Our reading skills are wide rather than deep.  And while skimming is a valuable skill for researching, it isn't always going to work for reading. 

So the question for me remains---what have we done to our children?? Do we need to worry about what sort of brains are humans going to have in the near future?  Will we lose the ability to think deeply about topics? 

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