So what do we learn?

hweinstein's picture

I'm still struggling with figuring out what should education provide for humans, considering the new role of technology.  I keep hearing the opinion that with computers around to help us, we can bypass the basics of math/science, depending on the computers for that knowledge, and skip right to the quantum mechanics and other higher-level ideas that we haven't taught computers how to do yet.  My hesitation is that I am not convinced that higher-level ideas can be accessed without an understanding of how the basics work, especially when we want to put our current ideas to the test.  I have trouble imagining a creative scientific process that relies on information feeding from computers.  Also, I think it would be really difficult to solve a higher-level problem without having first grappled with the lower-level ideas first.  Just because a machine can produce relevant information instantaneously doesn't automatically give this information meaning.  What are ways a teacher can facilitate a deeper understanding/meaning to a concept, not burdening the student with calculations that computers can do, but still bearing in mind that any program created to help foster this understanding is a human creation and can still be (and should be) called into question.

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hweinstein's picture

A better phrase

I agree with you.  I guess I was just trying to get my main idea out.  I guess I would rather pose the questions:

What content should humans explore through education?  Should the introdution of new technologies alter the content?  To what extent is is important to understand the process technology uses to execute the tasks it performs for us?

alesnick's picture

Can education "provide?"

I'm struck here by the image of education providing things for humans . . . education is human activity . . . this is why I am always uneasy when people talk about "delivery of instruction."  Could thinking of education as process, as interaction, as struggle, as negotiation, as translation help with this inquiry?  If learning is a form of change, maybe a way to ask the question might be, "How do people change in/using settings of formal education?"

asweeney's picture

In the context of today's

In the context of today's introductory discussion of McGonigal, I think this idea of educaiton (or anything really) as a "provider" is really important. Must we be provided with goals for learning or playing, such as in the classroom or in a game--both of which are designed by someone else for us? Or can we create our own goals for learning and life experience? When McGonical discusses the game Comfort of Strangers, she seems to think that we must be provided with a longing to connect with others. I like to think that this longing for human connection is present whether or not I am provided with the game or context for such connection. 

Furthermore, I was interested to see how often this word "goal" was used in our few moments of class discussion. Mcgonigal expresses that we find meaning from working with others towards a defined goal---no matter how arbitrary this goal is. I wonder, however, why goals are assumed to be so necessary? In the context of gaming, I understand that choosing to reach for an unecessary goal provides a feeling of happiness---sometimes epic hapiness even. Looking to my own life experiences, however, when I reach back and define which moments had most meaning or felt epic to me, I find that these are the moments in which I had no goal or where I experienced meaning from the very oppostite of my goal. Meaningful rewards may come from feeling that we are a part of something bigger than ourselves, but I would challenge the concept that this feeling always comes from reaching a goal. Sometimes we don't have a goal; we just experience something and later realize that our eyes were opened to a new perspective that adds great meaning to our lives. 

hweinstein's picture

Reposting as a responce

I agree with you.  I guess I was just trying to get my main idea out.  I guess I would rather pose the questions:

What content should humans explore through education?  Should the introdution of new technologies alter the content?  To what extent is is important to understand the process technology uses to execute the tasks it performs for us?

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