The Pain of Attention in a “googleable” World

Two long-suffering students, Prateek and Adriana.

Thus people habituate themselves to let things pass through their minds, as one may speak, rather than to think of them. Thus by use they become satisfied merely
with seeing what is said, without going any further. Re-view and attention, and even forming a judgment, becomes fatigue; and to lay any thing before them that requires it, is putting them quite out of their way. —Joseph Butler

Ten minutes ago, I googled “the pain of attention” + “philosopher” because I wanted to craft an eloquent response to “The New School of Google,” an opinion piece published by The Tyee. (I’ll marinate in my own irony later.)

In the article, Nick Smith asks “Why make students memorize facts easily found on the Net?” and then argues that we must change how we teach children in the age of search engines and instantaneous answers. Critical thinking skills, he proposes, will be much more valuable to a generation that will ask questions for which we do not yet have corresponding answers and quick facts.

Reader, I hardly expect you to read the original article. So, instead, I’ll do the following:

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