Divine technology?

In light of recent advancements in technology and pedagogical attempts at evolving alongside it, consider the following:

If humanity relies on technology, it will cause them to be forgetful; they will stop using their minds because they will rely too much on technology to do the thinking for them, not by their own critical thinking, but by means of algorithms and binary code. What we have discovered is not a recipe for learning and knowing, but for empty exposure to more ideas than we’d ever be able to absorb. It is no real knowledge that you offer your students if you allow technology in your teaching, but only something that seems like knowledge.  It will only seem as though they are learning effectively, while for the most part they learn nothing, and as students filled, not with wisdom but the idea of wisdom, they will be a burden to society.

If you are familiar with Plato, then what I’ve written will sound strikingly similar to Plato’s own words:

“If men learn this, it will implant forgetfulness in their souls; they will cease to exercise memory because they rely on that which is written, calling things to remembrance no longer from within themselves, but by means of external marks. What you have discovered is a recipe not for memory, but for reminder. And it is no true wisdom that you offer your disciples, but only its semblance, for by telling them of many things without teaching them you will make them seem to know much, while for the most part they know nothing, and as men filled, not with wisdom, but with the conceit of wisdom, they will be a burden to their fellows.”

…which we remember because someone wrote it down…

Plato’s lived in an oratory culture.  I myself am constantly exposed to oral tradition through intense memorization of the Qur’an which follows strict rules of recitation.  Speaking through a double lens, straddling ancient tradition and new-age developments, I ask myself – is one really better than the other?

It seems every generation bemoans the next, complaining of some old thing lost and some terrible, useless new thing gained.  Teachers hated erasers when manufactured on the ends of pencils, saying it would cause students to stop thinking about what they write before writing it, ruining their minds. Writing will make us forget, erasers will make us stop thinking.  Technology will make us mindless googly-eyed reading machines?

Mark Twain said that history doesn’t repeat itself but it sure does rhyme.  It seems that looking through history, any technological advance, including writing itself, was seen as a threat to higher thinking and humanity as a whole.  What we’ve really gained are tools which make learning and thinking easier, not dumber.  I swear if I had to remember everything my professors profess without note-taking, though I try hard, I’d certainly do worse on exams that I already have.

It is said in an Islamic tradition that the first thing created, even before the earth, was the pen and it was ordered to write.  Even Plato believed in to theion, the divine, though more in a ho theos, common noun type of way.   The pen is divine creation, Plato! If we apply this divine logic to present-day, can we say that laptops are divine too?  Because I really don’t know what I’d do without my online thesaurus.

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