My old kentucy blog



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Description: It can be too easy for students to Google an assignment before they stop to think about it. Some researchers say we're losing our critical thinking and memory skills by relying on the search bar.

Some researchers say we're losing our critical thinking and memory skills by relying on search engines.

If you were tasked with answering it, what would your first step be? Would you scribble down your thoughts — or would you Google it?

Terry Heick, a former English teacher in Kentucky, had a surprising revelation when his eighth- and ninth-grade students quickly turned to Google.

"What they would do is they would start Googling the question, 'How does a novel represent humanity?' " Heick says. "That was a real eye-opener to me."

For those of us who grew up with search engines, especially Google, at our fingertips — looking at all of you millennials and post-millennials — this might seem intuitive. We grew up having our questions instantly answered as long as we had access to the Internet.

Now, with the advent of personal assistants like Siri and Google Now that aim to serve up information before you even know you need it. you don't even need to type the questions. Just say the words and you'll have your answer.

But with so much information easily available, does it make us smarter? Compared to the generations before who had to adapt to the Internet, how are those who grew up using the Internet — the so-called "Google generation" — different?

Heick had intended for his students to take a moment to think, figure out what type of information they needed, how to evaluate the data and how to reconcile conflicting viewpoints. He did not intend for them to immediately Google the question, word by word — eliminating the process of critical thinking.

There is a relative lack of research available examining the effect of search engines on our brains even as the technology is rapidly dominating our lives. Of the studies available, the answers are sometimes unclear.

Some argue that with easy access to information, we have more space in our brain to engage in creative activities, as humans have in the past.

Whenever new technology emerges — including newspapers and television — discussions about how it will threaten our brainpower always crops up, Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker wrote in a 2010 op-ed in The New York Times. Instead of making us stupid, he wrote, the Internet and technology "are the only things that will keep us smart."






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