Sunday, May 07, 2006

Susan Greenfield

Bill Johnston (see his photo of Fremantle horbour, right) drew my attention to an recent speech by (Baroness) Susan Greenfield in the House of Lords. I once shared an Australian news column with her (couldn't resist mentioning this: it was an article about information literacy and had some quotes from me, Ralph Catts and her). Her speech to the Lords is about new media and young people's interaction with it, and how we don't actually know what effect all this is having on people's brains. She also mentions increasing prescription of mood altering drugs.

A few quotations: She feels that when people are no longer familiar with the experience of engaging with an extended narrative or argument, then, when they encounter multimedia "The most immediate reaction [...] would be to place a premium on the most obvious feature, the immediate sensory content-we could call it the "yuk" or "wow" factor. You would be having an experience rather than learning." "The [National] Literacy Trust pointed out that reading from the screen was just as legitimate as reading from a book, but we might ask how long this trend will continue. Already the visual icon is often substituting for the written word. Soon the spoken word will be increasingly available. If we soon have voice-interface computers-such computers are in the near future-embedded in our clothing or personal effects, you might simply need to ask your watch for the date of the Battle of Hastings." "We must surely choose to adopt technology that will ensure that the classroom will fit the child, and buck the growing trend for technology to be used to make the 21st-century child fit the classroom. The educational needs of the individual are changing and the very nature of the classroom needs to change too. "

You can find the complete text on the Hansard for 20th April 2006, scroll down a bit to 3.18pm (for overseas readers, Hansard is the verbatim record of proceedings in the Houses of Parliament)

She also mentions the ESRC funded seminar series Collaborative Frameworks for Neuroscience and Education - see

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