Tools of the Mind (Chapter 3 of The Shallows)


Students are not attending office hours much yet so I took advantage of that to read another chapter of The Shallows.  In chapter 3 Carr makes the point that the argument he plans to make about modern information technology is itself not new.

The Greeks argues over the impact of a change from an oral tradition to a written tradition 2500 years ago.  Socrates argues that writing could make one forgetful as you did not need to remember that which you wrote down.  (Again, the connection to this blog as What ILearned This Week stands out).  There is a discussion of how poetry was needed to enhance memory in cultures with oral traditions.  In a culture with written traditions it was thought it might not be needed. 

Carr tells how the invention of the map caused people to make metaphorical maps like the map of your life.  He tells how the invention of the clock and the mechanical workings causes people to begin to think of their bodies and their universe running like clockwork.

The parallels here are inescapable.  I’m ready to be convinced it can be extended to today. Hopefully he explains what he hopes we salvage from the pre-internet days and how we can exploit the new ways of thinking in teaching today.

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