Politico Pro (paywall) reported September 20, 2016, during a breakfast hosted by The Christian Science Monitor, U.S. Secretary of Education John King said he worries that ‘students who are homeschooled are not getting the kind of rapid instructional experience they would get in school’—unless parents are “very intentional about it”.
IAHE Action wonders if the Secretary is referring to personalized learning through digital media, when he speaks of “rapid instructional experience?” We have concerns about this type of education and have asked friend of IAHE Action, Dr. Dawn Kazmierzak, who has studied this subject to share thoughts on how a “rapid instructional experience” negatively impacts the brain and a person’s ability to think deeply. She has an undergraduate degree in biology and neurobiology. Her doctorate is in visual science and optometry. Post-doctorate residency is in hospital-based and developmental optometry.
Does this explain why some now insist information be presented in small segments? Has the use of computers affected their ability to think deeply? What do you think?
“The behavior of a human being modifies its neural structure no less than the neural system directs its behavior. What a person does, or engages in formats that person’s brain.
- The human brain is an information processor. Information must be given meaning. There is a distinct difference between the physical stimuli that our sensory systems are presented with and the perception we make of those stimuli. In order for that to occur, the brain must transduce sensory input and make a representation of it in the brain. Transduction is the process by which the physical stimulus is detected (light, taste, smell, heat, cold, touch, proprioception, sound, pain etc.) via specific sensory receptors (photo, chemo, thermo, mechano, and nociceptors) and is converted to a form of energy used by the nervous system. Representation is the way information is encoded and organized as an analogue of the stimulus within the structure of the nervous system (brain, for our discussion.)
- The rational thinking areas of the brain, the cerebral cortex employ analogue encoding and organization. This is accomplished by memory retrieval of past experiences, making comparisons, contrasts, forming relationships, conducting analyses, forming categories, and making new dendritic pathways connecting, organizing, encoding this new sensory input; thereby organizing an internal perception, providing meaning and future access to this new information.
Rational memory is stored across many regions of the cerebral cortex. It takes 5-10 minutes of focused attention to begin to consolidate a new memory trace. It is estimated to take nearly 60 minutes of focused attention to form a more permanent memory consolidation. No memory is truly permanent and all memory must be rehearsed, refreshed and the pathways utilized or those non-accessed paths will be pruned.
The middle pre-frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex is responsible for the elaboration of thought, prevention of distractibility, keeping mental functions toward the goals, impulse control, deep thought- increase in the depth and abstractness of thought, planning for the future, fear modulation, and response flexibility. Other cognitive roles of the middle pre-frontal lobe include the mental functions of morality, consideration of consequences prior to action, solving complicated mathematical, legal and philosophical problems, emotional balance, attunement in communication with others, and empathy.
To summarize: the rational portions of the brain, the cerebral hemispheres, particularly the left-brain, middle prefrontal lobe, hippocampus etc. employ detailed-oriented, time-consuming methods to form an Analogue memory trace (an accurate as possible representation of that stimulus encoded and organized in such a way that the individual can retrieve, modify, and build upon the information in the future.) Traditionally human beings, parents in particular, have transmitted values, knowledge and beliefs to their heirs by personally overseeing the processing of information and the formation of meanings assigned to the physical stimuli to which their children have been exposed.
- The Social Emotional Training (SEL) path, utilizing the lower parts of the brain, the Limbic System, cerebellum etc.
Digital media is not analogue. Digital media is binary, either “on” or “off.” “Yes or No.” It is fast, harsh, shocking, rapidly changing and overwhelmingly too much stimulation, too much information, and too frequent distractions for the rational portions of the brain to process. Digital media sends the nervous system into high alert, a hyper-stimulated, agitated, impulsive, stressed condition.
Digital media’s vast amount of sensory stimuli and the speed at which they are presented cause the nervous system to default into survival mode utilizing the Limbic system, the fright, flight, fight, emotional centers of the midbrain. The Amygdala of the limbic system is responsible for associations known as fear conditioning, which results in reflexive behaviors in response to sensory triggers that become linked to previously stressful or highly emotional/rewarding events.
Memory is most deeply seeded when associated with intense emotional stimulation such as fear or pleasure. The use of videos, digital gaming, social-emotional training, social media and group experiential “learning” situations, have become commonplace in efforts to format a reflexive, non-rational, behavior in the culture.
The reward center of the mid-brain, the nucleus accumbens, receives a hit of dopamine with each perceived “success” in a video game, social-emotional setting, on-line task, clone phone message, therefore providing an internal “reward”. This neurochemical reward, behavioral conditioning is responsible for the noted euphoric response, neural compulsion loops and addictions increasingly cataloged with digital gaming and Internet use. Currently, it is estimated that over 30% of American youth have IAD, Internet addiction disorder, via clone phones, (smart phones) many youth and adults are never unplugged from the Internet.
- The use of digital media training, e-learning, embeds at a neural reflexive level the logic of the software program. “Educational” training software employs the use of Artificial Intelligence with self-adapting algorithms to meet the individual participant where they are and to adapt the program to reward the student when the desired logic of the program is followed. These are also called embedded formative assessments. When an individual interacts with digital media, the individual is being assessed, and formatted with or without their consent. (Embedded within the program)
Desired responses are hardwired into the individual so that the participant is trained, just as B.F. Skinner, Professor at Indiana University and Vladimir Turchenko of the USSR Academy of Sciences envisioned in the 60’s.
“At the present time,” writes Turchenko, “education has merged organically into a single system of social production, science and technology, in a system that is as a whole undergoing revolutionary changes at an historically unprecedented rate.” Turchenko’s book, published in 1973 examines the fundamental directions that the revolution in education will take: introduction of teaching machines, instruction being at a younger age (toddlers, preschool…), linking instruction with productive labour, “continuous” education, and so on.” **
- The present reality. Via the revolutionary use of digital media bypassing the rational executive thinking areas of the brain, we now have a Digital Dictatorship. We now have herds of socially and emotionally manipulated individuals. They have been conditioned to respond to symbols, phrases, emotions, and imperative commands. Those who are incapable of individual liberty, thoughtful rumination, meaningful dialog or self-governing democracy are ripe and ready for obedience to the dictatorship who promises yet more external and internal “rewards” as defined by the logic of the programmers.
Recall that dictatorship is embraced because the citizens have been formatted to want to be dictated. Dictatorships need not be the result of brute force, but by the control of the means that influence the populace….such as “education” and “media.””
**from the cover of Turchenko’s book entitled The Scientific and Technological Revolution and the Revolution in Education published in 1973.