Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Googling Your Brain Away

Google, I love you for all your abilities; for your scope and range. I love that I can put the words "knit a cow" in the little box below your colorful logo, click my mouse, and you will deliver to me all 43,259,100 hits that my heart desires and I will potentially have all the known knowledge of the knitted cow. 

Many evenings are spent on adventures that you - that's right, you, Google - design and lead. If it were left up to me, I'd just look at that recipe, but no! You lead me to gossip about Guy Fieri; and just as quick as the Fieri foibles are laid bare - boom! I'm looking at the history of Guy Fawkes Day. Click, click, click till I'm sick. One minute of useful information padded with thirty minutes of Internet flotsam accumulates. As I said, albeit remorsefully, I love you, Google.

But Google, you are messing with my critical thinking class and students. Why? Because my young minds are googling their brains to mush. 

It's not that you don't have information, Google-pie, it's just that it is not interchangeable with what is required of students' work. If the requirement is to read a passage or a work of fine literature, I need my students to do just that. I realize that you're not holding them down and forcing them to think on a Googley playing field. But, google this: How am I to know that a student is capable of reading and comprehending at an appropriate level, if they can't describe and explain what they are reading?

One way is to have each student complete probing questions at the end of each chapter. Could I give you a list of all my students and get you, Google, to promise that you won't provide the answer? See, after they fill in the answer you give them, I'm still left hanging. I still need to know that the student understood the work. I've been robbed of an important tool. 

Why is blue Cherdo smiling?
Why is she not weeping? Google it.

All student use is not off limits; we are not savages. Oh, contraire mon ami. I'd be okay if my dear, darling reservoirs of education used your Googlicious browser to look up plagiarism; in fact, that would be helpful. I've explained it till I'm blue in the face (at the risk of being cliche, which I've also explained...). Somewhere along the line, my young scholars have gotten confused and you could help by explaining that when you copy information from a source and don't cite it - you're plagiarizing. It's not your original idea; not your original work.

Maybe you, oh Googlus Maximus, could lead these students to the tale of the appendix, that baffling vestigial organ. No one knows its purpose. Speculation is that it might have helped digest or perhaps it is a storage vessel for helpful bacteria. But most experts think it has no function now; it's a remnant of something that our bodies used long ago - but we don't use now. Think of that story as an anatomical parable for the modern man to download and install.

If you keep using a browser, rather than a brain, your brain might just shrink up and cease to be useful.

(I could be the pessimist and say that if you are choosing browser over brain right now, the process may have already started. Be careful.)


  1. Good morning, dear Cherdo!

    You don't need a brain to blog.
    I'm living proof. (Hit it, mister drummer, if you please!)

    I often wonder what it would have been like if the baby boom generation had the luxury of Google when we were young. We wouldn't have needed to go through the process of thinking, deductive reasoning, developing a hypothesis, etc., just Google, copy the findings of others and paste. Then again, the ability to use tools that save time and effort has always been a measure of intelligence. In the new millennium (a term that is already getting old as we work our way rapidly through the 21st century) how much you know might not be as important as knowing where to find the information you need - your ability to network with people and interface with machines that can provide the information for you. I'm not saying I like the new normal, but it seems the future is here... now.

    I'm sorry you're blue today, dear friend. :) I hope to be seeing red when I join you tomorrow. Have a terrific Tuesday!

    1. When I win the lottery (which will be a miracle, since I don't play), I'm hiring a drummer! It's a required part of the Shady flair.

      The biggest problem I have with all the Google born thoughts are that these kids are too young and too uneducated (not stupid, they just lack exposure to information - because they're young!) to know what is good information and what is just plain wrong, or bad information.

      In the instances where I'm asking them to form an opinion, googling a response is like asking Big Brother "what do I think?"

      All I need now is to have George Orwell substitute for a few days. He'd come up with a new book. Unfortunately, he's been dead since 1950...I googled it (I don't have a problem with googling factual tidbits).

      Shady, you don't want to see me in red! Ha ha ha. See you tomorrow, brother!

    2. My jokes have been dead since 1950. I googled it. (BA-DUM-BUMP)

  2. I think there is something to this, actually. Has a study been done into how Google is impacting people's abilities to learn? I just wrote an article (ironically researched using Google!) on how multitasking impacts a person's cognitive ability. That INCLUDES having email notifications/text messages popping up every 5 seconds while you're working and stopping to check it. People don't naturally have the ability to do more than one thing at a time and, because we're forcing ourselves to, we're harming our ability to hold information for more than a few minutes and our ability to focus. I'd never thought about it that way, but experts recommend scheduling email/phone checks and doing something called "set switching," which means forcing yourself to stop thinking about one project before turning to another task, like checking email.

    1. Stephanie, I'm a notorious multi-tasker, but when I'm trying to learn and retain something I can't go that route. I'm seeing a negative impact in students right now and I believe being "plugged in" is a big factor. Even in the kids who are citing a source, I rarely see a book or article cited. It's all online.

      If everything was 100% accurate online, that would be great, but I don't have to point out the amount of junk that is wafting around the Internet.

      I do have one comic relief tale: I do a lot of genealogy, and I was in a pointed debate about something with a person on a genealogical link. When I pressured them, they finally gave me two sources. I was one of them (they just copied my information, but they didn't read what I had said on the subject) and the other was someone who agree with me...because they had also copied my information.

      Thinking is a great skill.

    2. I forgot to say the most important thing: I want to read your article, Stephanie!

  3. I slipped up and googled the wrong thing and got this!
    Kind of appropriate, I'd say!

    1. Ha ha...I need that shirt, I could just make a dart and close the space between CHER and DO.

  4. Google schmoogle, I love you, but you're not healthy for the mind of a student. Way back when I was a grader for an English professor, I tried to teach the students that just because you find something online, that doesn't make it a scholarly source. I, too, will not win the lottery because I don't want to pay the poverty tax (a.k.a. buying the tickets), but when I win, I'll go in with you on the drummer. Someone gave me a couple of scratch-off tickets for Christmas one year. She had to show me what to do with them. I didn't even know what they were.


    1. Good news, Janie. Thanks to your latest shopping expedition with WDW, you now own more pairs of shoes than Imelda Marcos!

  5. CHERDO ~
    Does I have an answer to yer Q?
    I Cher do!
    Googled it fer you:

    About 42,400,000 results (0.38 seconds)
    Search Results

    Original Thought - Forum
    lofi.forum.physorg.com › ... › Puzzling questions
    Mar 3, 2011 - 4 posts - ‎3 authors
    Are humans capable of original thought? My personal opinion is no we cannot think of something completely new it has some outside influence ...
    Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not - Wikipedia, the free ...
    Wikipedia is not a place to publish your own thoughts and analyses or to ... Per our policy on original research, please do not use Wikipedia for any of the following: ... In the unusual situation where the opinions of an individual are important ..... Wikipedia:What Wikipedia is not/Outtakes · Wikipedia:Why was my page deleted ...
    10 Reasons Why I Will Continue to Give my Children ...
    Mar 11, 2014 - I want my own kids to see everything technology has to offer. ...... In my personal opinion I don't think it matters if it works, I think it's how you ..... would take away from their own original thought… at least not until kindergarten ...
    original thought | Mindful Digressions
    Dec 15, 2013 - Posts about original thought written by Doobster418. ... Is formulating a new opinion about something the same as having an original thought? ... And, so, in my own head, perhaps, I discover a new way of looking at something ...
    Is everyone capable of deep intellectual thought? | A ...
    Personally my deep intellectual thoughts consistently lead me to infinate ..... of "deep thought" to determine my point of view, and in my opinion, the answer is - no. ... diluted in accuracy and potency by whatever multiple the original input was ...
    Original Thought or Not? | From The Heart
    Sep 22, 2013 - My last original thought was when I self published Through The ... our thoughts are I think I am right and these are my own original thoughts and reasoning. It is my opinion that the reason many are not excited by my spiritual ...
    Read Me - Jeremiah Andrick
    These thoughts represent my own educational and personal endeavors; not the ... I like debate and enjoy learning; so sometimes I change my opinion I don't ... I do my best to credit original content creators for works that I share in my site.
    Is there such thing as an original thought? Is our thinking even ...
    Feb 19, 2013 - I feel like I have no opinions of my own, just the opinions of others implanted into my brain.
    Adaptation. (2002) - Quotes - IMDb
    Internet Movie Database
    If you can't find that stuff in life, then you, my friend, don't know crap about life! ... Charlie Kaufman: [voiceover] Do I have an original thought in my head? ..... Susan Orlean: Can I ask you a personal question? .... Opinion. Awards · FAQ · User Reviews · User Ratings · External Reviews · Metacritic Reviews · Message Board ...
    Literature Review - University Center for Writing-based ...
    DePaul University
    Note that your personal opinion should play a very minor role in a literature review. ... with summarizing and paraphrasing authors' main ideas rather than finding an exemplary quotation. Cite every idea that is not your own original thought.

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    Hope dat he'ps.

    ~ D-FensDogg
    Of The F-FFF Underground

    1. To quote a fabulously ferret faced fascist blog: "...First, it is ridiculed..."

      You crack me up, Stephen.


Thanks for your personal yada, yada, yada,
Love, Cherdo