Google offers easy answers to difficult questions. But students do not know how to tell if they come from serious, refereed work or are merely composed of shallow ideas, superficial surfing and fleeting commitments.
It seems unfair to blame Google for this. But in reading the article and some background on Brabazon, it doesn’t seem she blames Google either. It’s the author of the Times article who focuses the blame on Google.
In truth school textbooks are notoriously poor sources of information on history – as are television and films, mediums children spend as may hours getting educated by as their classrooms. Really what it seems she wants, is to teach children how to interpret all kinds of media. According to the article:
Her own students are banned from using Wikipedia or Google as research tools in their first year of study, but instead are provided with 200 extracts from peer-reviewed printed texts at the beginning of the year, supplemented by printed extracts from eight to nine texts for individual pieces of work.
I get the ban – but the article frames this wrong. The ban is to help people to understand what’s being banned, not to ban it forever. As best I can tell Brabazon is trying to teach a kind of
media literacy for research. The highlight of the article for me is this quote:
We need to teach our students the interpretative skills first before we teach them the technological skills. Students must be trained to be dynamic and critical thinkers rather than drifting to the first site returned through Google
And no technology can do our critical thinking for us – we have to depend on our brains for that one. However, there have been advocates of mandatory media literacy education for a long time. The core theme being to teach children how to compare sources, deconstruct advertising, and be savvy about what they read & see, instead of wasting time training students in rote research methods devoid of critical thinking.
Given the context, I’d hoped Tara Brabazon, the professor quoted in the article, had a blog, perhaps to respond to the thin, biased tone of the article. But her site lists only her books and CV.
She writes quite well and I’m intrigued enough by her smart, funny articles like Socrates in earpods: the i-podification of education to read more of her work.
Her most recent book is called the University of Google, which from the description advocates the teaching of research, but I couldn’t find a table of contents or even a review of the book. The best sumation of Tara’s own thinking on the issue was from these notes on a lecture she gave about the book.