Sunday, October 16, 2011

Learning with Understanding?

A kid sees and notices a laptop before anything else these days (actually I saw this in 2006 when a 2.5 year old kid was learning alphabets on a laptop).

You ask the kid to write A, the kid says "there is no laptop, where & how can I write A?"

The kid then opens a laptop & presses the button 'A' to show the alphabet. Well, now, if I understand & follow a bit of psychology, the kid associates the alphabet 'A' to a key on the laptop/computer. He learns 'pressing' a key but not 'writing', would he learn the curves & will he be able to write the curves, for which purpose the entire cursive writing classes & what not are held!

With such high exposure to computers/laptops in such early years in a kid's life, say you ask the kid to add 2 numbers. He opens up an excel spreadsheet & puts in the 'SUM' formula & adds the two numbers for you.

The kid knows that 'adding' is '=SUM(___,___)'. But would he know the meaning of addition. What it means to 'add' two numbers? There is a very high possibility that he wouldn't know that!

Compare 2 kids - one who grew up burning all the midnight oil to learn each & every concept with complete understanding. And there is another who learns the other way - the 'typing' & the 'SUM' ways. Considering that ultimately the kid has to grow up & go into this corporate world, do the way the corporate world function these days, barring exceptions, need any real 'understanding'? My guess is 99% of the time, not! I am not sure if we have enough corporates who can distinguish between the two - may be in the initial job when freshers join, they may have IQ tests etc. but later on, it is only experience that is seen & this cumulative knowledge of 'SUM' & 'computers' dominates largely (100% of the time almost) :-)

The intellectual who burnt all the midnight oil & can be called a 'geek' in the widely used terminology, forms top 1%(?) of the lot, needed to burn the oil to get into the top 1% of the best schools, colleges, universities, institutions. But has this other kid been denied going to school, college or university or good jobs? In fact, I am afraid this one has many more options than the 'intellectual'. After all, 99% of all this 'geek' fraternity, after his stints in the top 1% of the educational institutions, has to go where? The same world as the other 99%?

So, the BIG question is 'Is there a need for one to know what 'addition' means if he knows 'SUM' function & knows how to compute it? Is there a need to know & understand what alphabets/words/phrases/sentences mean in language if one knows how to type?'

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