For most of mankind’s history learning was by rote and memorization of information through chanting repetition. This oral tradition continued well into the modern era, modified slightly but still the root of lecture-based education, from kindergarten through university. The professor is the shaman of science and technology, delivering information and insight in the first person to the gathered select youth of each generation. But is this necessary in an age of the ability to create a video-illustrated version of the teacher’s best explanation of the universe, for distribution to anyone interested in the subject via the Internet or DVD?
The brain is not, as commonly believed, an organ for acquisition and storage of information. Its primary function is to filter out the vast majority of input from the deluge of external stimuli that make up daily existence. The useful details are relegated to memory, which may have worked well in the primitive period of cave painting and tool making, but with the advent of impressionism and nuclear physics, overloading has become a problem, as evidenced by the rise of psychological studies and the sale of tranquilizers in the last century. There is simply too much information to be assimilated and stored in our cortex.
Which is just fine, now that we can store the aggregate of human knowledge in digital form, available to order in volume. The problem is that we are still attempting to gather and retain data that we may never need, thereby cluttering up our none-too-well organized minds with distracting thoughts unrelated to the topic at hand. The very randomness of our organic retrieval system is both its weakness and genius, leading to occasional original thought known colloquially as imagination.
In the new world of the new century, learning may well be the achievement of increasing enlightenment on the interconnection of all life and the development philosophies to enhance and restore balance.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.