Sunday, October 28, 2007

Time Machine revisited

Rachel wrote:

Today I was browsing Yahoo and noticed this article as the headline for the homepage:
"the human race will eventually split into two"

I read it and noticed that it talks alot about what we discussed in class when we read The Time Machine. And, it makes a brief reference to the book as well.

My initial excitement that H.G. Wells's predictions are still newsworthy was tempered by the first comment at the bottom of the page: "This is the stupidest thing I've ever heard."
So, I did a little more investigation.

"The alarming prediction comes from evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry from the London School of Economics..."
Part of Curry's theory reminds us of our class discussions on Wells's novel The Time Machine, "While science and technology have the potential to create an ideal habitat for humanity over the next millennium, there is the possibility of a monumental genetic hangover over the subsequent millennia due to an over-reliance on technology reducing our natural capacity to resist disease, or our evolved ability to get along with each other."
My students came to this same conclusion in our discussions of the novel! So how much more reliable is this coming from Oliver Curry? He's not a geneticist or a physical scientist at all. He received his doctorate from the London School of Economics and currently teaches at the Centre for Philosophy of Natural and Social Science in the London School of Economics, according to Wikipedia and his own website, He seems to spend his days pondering human evolution in terms of morality and political theory.
So the jury's out on the physical evolution of the human race, but it's certainly worth thinking about the ramifications on our bodies of the wide spread use of computer technologies. See these related articles:


I think that one of the most powerful tools of the teacher is the act of reflection. Trying something, noting results, and evaluating possible reasons takes time, but for the successful teacher, happens all the time: after each class period, each unit, each year.
I started this blog as a place of reflection, especially in my attempts to use of technology effectively. As with every diary or journal I've ever started, somewhere along the way life got in the way, and I took a little hiatus from the frequent posts. Of course, once you're out of habit it's even harder to start up again.
I haven't been using as much innovative technologies lately because I began to get feedback from my students that it was getting a little overwhelming. The curriculum at my school is academically rigourous, students are expected to spend about three hours at home each night to prepare for the next day's assignments, in addition to after school commitments like sports teams. Adding new technologies to learn was beginning to add to my curriculum. I don't want to sacrifice the core subject matter, so it's important to remember that even though this new generation of learners may learn technologies faster they still need time to learn, experiment, and discover the value of different technologies. It takes extra time to become efficient on any new activity, and they get frustrated (maybe more quickly) when there are roadblocks like slow Internet access or down websites.
Of course, I'll keep learning and using new technologies and imagining ways to use current programs and applications to help my students learn more effectively.
On a recent paper assignment I gave my sophomores the option of using, Inspiration, or Word to write an outline for their paper. I reminded them that ultimately they are in charge of learning how they learn best; I'm just here to help them figure that out. And, of course we reviewed the pros and cons of good old fashioned paper and pencil-also an option. I think that they appreciated the choice and the reminder of why we do what we do. Students got to work pretty quickly and most used Inspiration, a program that they have used many times last school year. Many chose Word and a few chose most recent application that they have learned.
I found their choices to be interesting, but most importantly, it was a very productive class period.