Solitude

“Thinking means concentrating on one thing long enough to develop an idea about it.”  
William Deresiewicz, Solitude and Leadership

Schools around the nation are starting to move to a “one-to-one” format.  When I first heard that phrase, I thought it meant that students would be assigned their own personal instructor, a one-to-one student to teacher ratio.

Actually, it means every single student will have access to his/her own laptop or iPad at every moment every day.   Technology is the future.  As a young teacher, you would think this would excite me.   But on the contrary, the “one-to-one” idea has me nervous. 

Over the last ten years, the Internet has bombarded us continuously with other people’s ideas.  The Internet has allowed us to promote our own, one status at a time.  But is any of it real thinking?

This week I read a speech written by William Deresiewicz, entitled Solitude and Leadership.  In the speech, he explains that real original thoughts can come only from times of solitude.  He says when we constantly fill our brains with the thoughts of others we become, well, sheep.

And back to the students.  Is it really a good idea to put in the hands of children the means by which to destroy their own ability to think and problem solve?  Deresiewicz refers to a study completed by Stanford in 2009, that indicated that multitasking with media really leads to distraction, not to any real learning. (As if we needed science to prove that)

So, what do you think?

Do you take times of real solitude to think about questions that plague your mind?  Or, like me, is your life so filled with the silent noise of social media, that it’s drowning out all original ideas?

And… do schools need to provide students with the very technology that is distracting us all from real thought?

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Comments

  1. wow Ben… i just got lost in there for a while. It's a really difficult problem to face. The Chinese have a proverb that says something along the lines of this, "You can see the shape of the mountain when you're standing on it." We're in the midst of the greatest technology boom since the Renaissance (or maybe Industrial Revolution). How can we expect to be able to describe the mountain when we're surrounded by it?

  2. So, this is pretty long and I don't expect you to read it, but I wrote a paper on this topic back in college: see here. I'm interested to see how this actually plays itself out at CPA.

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