We tend to see things in terms of what we have experienced – I agree with Carr, it is something I have been aware of for some time. If this is true then it begs the obvious question – how can we see what we have not experienced without being shown it, or is it possible to either actively look for it, or stumble upon it and then how do we recognise it.
Consider the problem of people planning to use something, lets say X. They have no experience of X and how it fits what they have experienced. Even if they try X they fit it into their experiences and shape it to fit. How do they see new uses of X – possibly we might just dismiss difference or in fact, not even see the differences, let alone grasp their significance. Proponents of X’s tend to be sales oriented and/or self interested. I am not saying this is a bad thing, but where does the critical appraisal come from?
For example, take computer technology like a laptop + Internet in the hands of kids in the classroom. Clearly, this is an X.
Teachers have no prior experience, X was not around in their classrooms and not in most teacher training, even in the last 10 years, the people running the teacher training had no experience of X, and even if they positted on it they had no or little direct experience of X.
Gibson coined the term Cyberspace and more importantly said something along the lines that the street finds a use for things – I would add especially in the void of guidance. In the classroom over the last nearly 20 years we have let net enabled laptops into the classroom, in the absence of guidance the kids will find a use for it, but so what.
The brain can adapt but this does not mean that it is adapting in a thinking or evaluative way, bit of pardox really. The brain can adapt, but so what, it has no way of knowing if the adaption is worthwhile – this is the point that is Carr is making about moving from distraction to deep reading back to a distracting environment, the brain has handled each stage but again so what.
We need teachers to guide – but how do we deal with the X?
That is a serious question – how do we teach teachers about how to use and assess the worth of net enabled laptops in the classroom?