Reality of the 2000s
BY MARY ANNE SUTHERLAND
Today, before fine-tuning this piece I re-read several articles I have recently found extremely significant. One was entitled “Anti-social Media: Would It Kill You To Put Down That Phone??” and the second news report/article was entitled “Study finds changes in brain wiring among young children who get more screen time” The third significant article was entitled “What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades”. No time in history have so many people had instantaneous access to information and misinformation with literally no filters…. The world of YouTube, Twitter, Facetime, Facebook and many other platforms have become extremely influential both positively and (more importantly) negatively.
I looked online to google many different newspaper headlines that had been published in many major cities and countries for January 1921 to confirm what was most significant 100 years ago. Everyone reading this article knows what I did when I said “I googled and went online” but if this were 1920 your understanding of google/online would have made no sense. In 1921 the year in review listed 2 very significant accomplishments under technology. They were:
- More and more tests and advancements are being made that will later provide the basis for television technology that will be used in millions of homes.
- With the changing needs of the airline industry and the future, Boeing obtains orders for aircraft and abandons furniture-making.
One hundred years has brought us full circle and possibly never in that 100 year history has understanding others been more essential. As in 1921, the advancement of television technology and related technologies were and are front and centre. We are now dealing with 100 years of a technological era that has moved at an unprecedented pace, and finding that in fact we have been impacted dramatically. Never before has our understanding of type and each other been more important. Trust in other people, our law makers, our news reporters, our neighbours and our surrounding community is a necessity.
Not only have our jobs or recreational hours changed significantly, but much more importantly the lives of our children have been dramatically altered by our new fast-paced, multi-tasking, quick-reflexed and spectacularly vivid technological world. Many theorists have been warning us for decades that the world we live in is actually biologically altering our children’s minds. “The discovery that the outside world is indeed the brain’s real food is intriguing. The brain gobbles up its external environment in bits and chunks…..” (Kotulak p 4)
The World We Live In
Each individual type will have evolved over the century to adapt to the current reality of the world they inhabit. Some will have adapted more willingly than others and some more easily than others. In our conference session we will see: how has each type has weathered the 100 years? Some types will feel more disconnected and others more energized by the pace of life leading to 2021. As an educator I may be biased, but nowhere is it so obvious how much has evolved or devolved for individual types, over the last 100 years, than to look at the school system.
When we consider the issue of changing brains we must acknowledge that students may display profound differences in processing information, decreased attention span, an inability to regulate emotional life and a deterioration in non-intellective factors needed for efficient learning. Elementary schools have been noticing that their children, at recess, did not always know how to play with each other. Their teachers were teaching the children how to play together. One of the most difficult rules that schools face currently is banning phones and other electronic devices from classrooms or at least controlling their use when acting as a distraction while classes are being conducted.
Edward Hallowell tells us about pseudo ADD, and assessment specialists demonstrate patterns that may be connected to changing minds. The article reference entitled “What’s lost as Handwriting Fades” compared brain activity between students who were handwriting and students who were keyboarding or tracing the same information. Those keyboarding or tracing showed no brain activation but the control group of students who wrote showed brain activity in 3 separate areas. Another study “from two psychologists, Pam A Mueller of Princeton and Daniel M Oppenheimer of University of California, Los Angeles, have reported that in both lab settings and real world classroom, students learn better when they take notes by hand rather than when they type on a keyboard. And the studies go on and on and on…..
Theorists have articulated one of the side effects of our 24 hour a day connectedness as being increased disconnectedness. “People increasingly lack face-to face interaction at their jobs. The opportunity for the emotional growth afforded by genuine human interchange is much reduced….. technology is increasingly being used in ways that reduce personal contacts in the interest of efficiency or cost cutting. Automatic teller machines replace familiar faces; ‘voice mail’…. Ordering goods by phone, fax, or e-mail cuts down on trips to the store and impromptu encounters that nurture relationships with neighbors. Faxes and e-mail are even substituted for chats with the person at the next desk. Entertainment delivered by television, electronic ‘home theaters,’ and personal computers means fewer ventures out into public places crowded with others. In thousands of small way, people’s opportunities to spend time interacting individually with those who know them well are evaporating… we will see that nations as well as individuals can coexist only in a world where people know each other well and understand one another’s particular needs, motives, and intentions. Lack of such understanding brings needless peril.” (Greenspan p 176)
Always Connected Yet Disconnected
This constant connectedness does come with a down side, and many are asking if the result of all this connectedness is in fact greater alienation and disconnection. This increased disconnectedness comes at a time when theorists have finally decided that it is emotion that is one of the key factors in our ability to think critically, to learn effectively to remember accurately and to handle the every day stresses of our lives. At a time when we read of the importance of emotional issues, emotional IQ and emotional well being it is strange that the very nature of our lives makes it increasingly more difficult to keep and maintain healthy emotional balance.
“Young people tend to spend much time and energy on such electronic media as video games, TV, and computers-at the expense of non electronic media and socialization (although new forms of socialization are evolving around watching TV and playing video games)… computer programs and TV editing techniques tend to compress, extend, and distort normal time-space relationships, a critically important element in the creation and use of effective long-term memories. Most of our memories are context-driven, and these electronic distortions can seriously alter the natural context the experience. (Sylwester ST BR SC IS p82,83)
Each of the 16 types will react very differently to our current reality. “…. We live in the buzz.” (Gleick pgs. 9 & 10) The significance for those who study type is profound. The use of a style instrument assists in opening lines of communication so much needed in today’s more connected but disconnected world. To keep individuals connected to real life, real emotion and satisfying relationships become a necessary task that may also need to be orchestrated as these abilities may no longer be automatic in our technologically connected world. As we interact digitally we also take valuable time from our person-to-person, one-on-one interactions that are so essential in our everyday lives. This has never before been so starkly visible. The benefits of our technological reality is astounding BUT how to balance face to face interaction and on-line or phone communication is key.
Brain Researchers Warn: Brains are Changing
“The brain is not static. It is dynamic and it constantly shapes and reshapes. We create connections as we grow. Our brain is molded by the world around us. Experiences constantly shape our brain. Suzuki points out that the brain is so vulnerable to external influences like stress, anger, hatred, or prejudice that we might wish we had more ways to buffer it. Life’s beauty and life’s tragedies profoundly alter our brain. It is both an exciting and grave picture to ponder, however, scientists are now giving us hard data to prove the saying, violence begets violence.”(David Suzuki The Brain CBC NEWS video)
Jane Healy in Endangered Minds and many other theorists began to sound an alarm to educators, parents, other researchers and scientists many years ago. At the time Healy wrote Endangered Minds it seemed her greatest dilemma was “Could I explain to non-scientists that changing lifestyles could be altering our children’s brains in subtle and critical ways” Now with technological advances and imaging systems, scientists can show us her greatest fears coming true. Scientists now explain that children’s experiences do in fact alter significantly the brain because much of the brain’s structure does depend directly on the way it is used. Every different experience of learning alters the physical structure of the brain. A small but very real example in today’s society suggests that children “hurried from one activity to the next may get lots of sensory input but will be short changed on the time consuming process of forming associations and networks to understand and organize meaningfully”(Healy) The underpinning of learning is shortchanged and the time consuming process is left lacking.
In conclusion, we know as type practitioners that the application of type theory can be effectively applied where collegiality needs to be encouraged, where relationships must be the main focus or where conflicting philosophies exist. Much more importantly as generation after generation of minds change it becomes essential to focus on communication issues as well as all our new spectacular technological advances.
About the Author
Mary Anne Sutherland (ISFP) is has worked for many years in education as an Instructor, Learning Strategist, Assistant Principal & Learning Diversity Advisor. She designed a program that could be implemented to ensure all student differences could be served in the public educational system. Since leaving the school system, after 32 years, she has consulted and offered a multitude of workshops for parents, students, educators, business groups and other type practitioners.
- Darling-Hammond, Linda (1997) The Right to Learn: A Blueprint for Creating Schools That Work. Josey-Bass Inc. Publishers, San Francisco, CA.
- Diamond, Marian & Hopson, Janet (1998) Magic Trees of the Mind: How to Nurture Your Child’s Intelligence, Creativity, and Healthy Emotions from Birth through Adolescence. Penguin Putnam Inc. NewYork, New York.
- Gleick, James (1999) Faster: The Acceleration of Just About Everything. Pantheon Books, Random House, Inc, New York / Toronto.
- Greenspan, Stanley (1997) The Growth of the Mind: The Endangered Origin of Intelligence. Perseus Books, Reading Massachusetts. ISBN 0-732-0026-3
- Hallowell, Edward D. & Ratey, John J. (1994 ) Driven to Distraction. New York: Pantheon
- Healy, Jane M. (1990) Endangered Minds: Why Our Children Don’t Think. Simon and Schuster, New York Doubleday, New York.
- Kotulak, Ronald (1997) Inside The Brain: Revolutionary Discoveries of How the Mind Works. Andrews McMeel Publishing. Kansas City. ISBN 0- 8362-3289
- Sylwester, Robert (1998) Student Brains, School Issues. Skylight Training & Publishing ISBN 1-57517-046-9
- Anti-social Media: Would It Kill You To Put Down That Phone?? by Wanda Bates CBC News (2019)
- Study finds changes in brain wiring among young children who get more screen time! by Solarina Ho, Avis Favaro, Elizabeth St. Phillip CTV News (2020)
- What’s Lost as Handwriting Fades by Maria Konnikova New York Times (2016)