What with a number of its Visual Communications instructors coming right out of the hotbed of technology and design that is Seattle, Cornish College is a buzzing place when it comes to features and applications. For this reason, at the start of this new semester, I found myself playing around with a new project management software. It was originally intended for, er-- project management-- but is now being tested here as a new tool to help organize and simplify the interaction of students and teachers. It's an easy and delightful program, and gives one the impression of immediate mastery, always a winning gambit. But it has brought up a question in my mind. And that question is one about over-parenting.
The software is just great and I'll be using it, and it is going to be acting as an "always on" conduit between me and my students. Forget an assignment? It's up there. Miss the syllabus? It's here for you. Lose the document? Download the pdf.
When looked at as a sort of go-to archive for the class, it really is appealing, and I think it will be useful. But here's my question.
Isn't part of education the learning of mental skills that keep you from forgetting the assignment, missing the syllabus, losing the document? Isn't part of your education learning to save and access these bits and pieces of information, to systematize them according to your own created system? Isn't part of learning figuring out a way to know where you put the information in your head and where to find it again?
Life doesn't always provide a site to which you can go to regain a lost opportunity, to get a second chance, to live that piece again. Some things happen only once, and if you're smart, your mind is there when they happen. You catch them for yourself. You make decisions about their value for yourself.
The creation of "storage and retrieval" systems within one's own brain is a part of educating oneself to be an individual. It's nice to have everything from my class in a handy project management tool. We'll all use it. But we'll be handing over a bit of our power to choose. We'll be using someone else's mental system, filling in blanks instead of deciding for ourselves what needs to be remembered.