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Screen-based online learning will change kids’ brains. Are we ready for that? | Maryanne Wolf

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August 24, 2020 at 03:37PM

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We are starting to see technology’s effect on child development and adult reading skills – and the research isn’t optimistic

Literacy literally changes the human brain. The process of learning to read changes our brain, but so does what we read, how we read and on what we read (print, e-reader, phone, laptop). This is especially important in our new reality, when many people are tethered to multiple screens at any given moment. With much of the world working from home, and millions of students learning at home, developing a biliterate brain – one adapted to both digital and traditional print literacy – has never been more important.

The poet TS Eliot presciently asked: “Where is the knowledge in our information? Where is the wisdom in our knowledge?” Neuroscientists and educators ask similar questions: will different mediums advantage or disadvantage our abilities to acquire information, distinguish what is true, immerse ourselves in the perspectives of others and turn information into knowledge, the precursor of wisdom? The emerging answers will have profound implications for shaping children’s intellectual, social-emotional and ethical development and preserving ours.

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