Wednesday, December 13, 2006

An Old Fashioned Girl After All

Perhaps I've read one too many Bradbury stories, but I do worry about growing increasingly dependent on technology. For all technology's advantages--and it has more potential than my brain could ever consider-- it has a certain coldness to it. A detachment. And it's not even this cold indifference that scares me--it's that future generations might not recognize this quality because they won't know the warm confusion of getting lost in a library or the privacy of writing in a journal with a wobbly lock or sleepy comfort of dozing with your sister's well-creased novel in your hand. Wikipedia can't hold a candle to the brownish-red, well-worn leather dictionary my father kept in high school--the one my parents kept in the study and forced me to use each time I didn't understand a word they used.

Looking up words in books takes time, journals can't spell check, and novels don't have links for you to click on. But despite the fact that knows my birthday, credit card numbers, every book, film, and CD I've ever purchased, my last four addresses, and the addresses and names of my friends and family, it's impersonal. Storing my name is not the same as carrying a stain on page 84 of Pride and Prejudice from a red popsicle I ate while sitting by the pool one late afternoon.

Lysander in A Midsummer Night's Dream comforts Hermia by reminding her that "The course of true love never did run smooth." For me, at least, love cannot exist in a realm of logic or predictability. To be the constructivist learner, the student in classroom that's not education as usual, to be a creative thinker and a problem solver and an innovative, active contributor to society, I think you must be a lover of knowledge. And this love, by nature, must be breathtakingly inefficient.