Fine Structure

Ludditry For Young Minds

Inevitably, any culture that develops new technology will have their fair share of armchair luddites who point the finger and shout "There's your monster!" at whatever invention is busy making our lives easier at that particular moment. Case in point: this article which has a university professor claiming that Google makes his students dumber. My intent isn't to debunk this particular article - anyone who seeks out a blog containing science content should have some sense of why this is wrong - but to comment on the reasons for the effect itself (that is: students taking the easy way out), which I don't doubt.

Nothing I've seen suggests that a certain subset of students will NOT take the easy way out given the opportunity. This applies equally as well to a time when Google did not exist in popular form. Of course Google is quite popular with the youngins these days and is, quite frankly, a useful tool for researching almost anything you want to know about. Unfortunately, the professor in question places the blame for the laziness of some of his students squarely on Google itself:

"Professor Brabazon does not blame schools for students' cut-and-paste attitude to study. Nor is she critical of students individually."

The suggestion that your first search result is not always your best is fair but to claim that the only culpable party is Google is pure ludditry! Students (and I speak from experience here) are not taught to develop their own interests in subjects. They are taught to write papers and do practice problems. It's a problem I see over and over again and as I become slightly closer with some particular academic institution I'm sure I'll have more to say on it.

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