Catch It Before You Miss It
Cathy Davidson, in her text Now You See It, provides insight into the world of knowledge, learning, and communication. She focuses a lot on how the brain works, how individuals learn, and how it is imperative to adapt to the changing times. However, Davidson describes one phenomenon in particular that she describes as needing major attention in order for the world and its elements to reach success. She implies in her text that in order to adapt to technological and digital changes in today’s world, the way in which individuals learn must be synchronized with such advancements.
Paying attention is a simple task that has been taught to every individual since infancy. It is not innate, but a learned task that is needed to be taught early on in life… but why? Davidson suggests that teaching individuals to pay attention is teaching them exactly what in today’s day in age needs to be altered. She claims that when concentrating on one thing, it is so easy to miss other things going on around us. To begin the process of succeeding in this digital age, we need to refresh our brains with new information that will help work in today’s society, sort of like refreshing a browser. Learning, unlearning and relearning is a constant cycle in the world, but if we do not change the way we learn to fit the changing times, we may get lost in transition. For example, taking notes in school used to be done solely with a notebook and a pencil. And currently, this is not the most common, or convenient method of taking notes. Presently, Davidson claims, solving important issues would be easier if we could “unlearn” what we’ve learned forever in order to understand other points of view. Because the world is changing, and we have learned in specific ways, we may miss out on these changes. For example, switching to note taking on laptops would be more beneficial to students now in classrooms instead of writing with pencils in notebooks.
However, Davidson argues that our learning processes are not changing quick enough. At the same time though, in comparison to Davidson’s theory, my own personal learning experience proves otherwise. Growing up, computer class in elementary school was not out of the ordinary. But, was only held maybe once a week for an hour at a time, if that. Learning how to use computers in the early 90’s was supported, but was not of high priority because no one could have anticipated the digital revolution that would soon take place.
In high school, students still wrote in notebooks with pencils in class, but instead of learning on the blackboard like in elementary school, just a few short years later, those blackboards were replaced with Smart Boards. They were touch screens that reflected what was on the computer screen and teachers were able to teach off their computers standing in front of the class with just the touch of their fingertips. This innovation was a mere amendment of overhead projectors we were so familiar with from childhood.
Now, in college, one of my writing classes is held entirely in a computer lab on Mac computers. All assignments are completed online and handed in via email to the professor. This is a perfect example of how learning has changed to fit this digital age. Back when notebooks and pencils were the dominant form of learning, holding a digital classroom would have been unheard of, and possibly laughed at.
It is common now that in almost every field of work a student may go on to become a part of will require knowledge of a computer. In fact, on a resume, showing proficiency in computer programs and Internet technology outweighs another candidate that does not have this knowledge. Because the world is changing so rapidly, it is of most importance to alter the way in which learning is taught to secure an understanding of the world. To go back to pencils and notebooks would be considered “olden times,” and would not prove most beneficial to students finishing their education and entering the world.
As I encountered these gradual changes it did not seem to have any effect on my attention span whatsoever. I just looked at it as getting older more technology was introduced to us. However, after reading Davidson’s ideas on this process of unlearning, I have realized that it was not just me getting older than I was eligible to use this technology, it is because the world is advancing technologically and we have to adapt to these new techniques. It is eye opening to realize the importance of how we need to adapt these changing times, because if not, it would be impossible to keep up with society.
When thinking of older generations and the divide between the way in which I learn and see the world now is completely different than my parents. Because I have been exposed to changing technologies throughout my years in school, it is quite interesting to see how more technologically savvy I am then they, and this is because of the time I grew up. When I eventually have children and send them off to school I cannot imagine what and how they will learn to learn.
It is impossible not to be effected by the world and how rapidly it changes. And like Cathy Davidson suggests, if we do not stop and think of new ways to learn, we are going to miss everything around us. If we never transitioned from notebooks and pencils to Mac computers, may not be life threatening, but surely will effect one’s position and knowledge in society. It is imperative not to get too caught up in one way of thinking and miss out on all the alternatives this digital age has to offer.
Jellinek, Dan. “How To Lift The Digital Age Barrier” photo, 2011.
Lennon, Maria. “Take Back Your IPad” photo, 2011.
Western Connecticut State University. “A Typical Technology Classroom” photo, 2012.