Are students less intelligent than they were 20 years ago?

While working on our documentary(“The Affects of Technology on Higher Education”), a question was raised in an interview, “Are students less intelligent now than they were 20 years ago?” Media and news outlets continue to pick up stories about technology making people stupid. Is this true?

The Atlantic ran an article in 2008 titled, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?” The author raises some valid points, but he is a little dramatic at times. According to the author, Nicholas Carr, deep thought or concentration no longer comes easily to him. His beliefs are supported by our interview with Dr. Ernest Ackerman of the UMW Computer Science department. Dr. Ackerman believes that focus is difficult to come by as well. Dr. Ackerman also believes that people no longer consume information and then think on it or dwell on it. Has the Information Age caused remapping of our neurons? Has the Information Age created a dearth of knowledge creation? People are no longer just thinking about topics or becoming experts in a through concentrated readings of books. This change from knowledge to information is false.

With the internet and increased availability of information, ┬ápeople are able to find out more about any topic than ever before. The internet allows for a liberal arts education. No longer do we have experts in very narrow fields, but we have people that are knowledgeable in many subject areas. With this change, people can think critically about content and solve problems critically. A key principle of this problem solving is the ability to think “outside of the box.” If this is the case, then the internet, nor Google, are ruining our brains, remapping the neurons and causing us to become thoughtless parasites. Rather, these online services and resources are tools for us further our knowledge farther than ever before.

One Response to “Are students less intelligent than they were 20 years ago?”

  1. csmeeth says:

    I’d actually have to be inclined with you and agree with that statement. I know I’ve personally been guilty of thinking “Oh I’ll look that up later”, and I know that a reliance on technology can lead students astray in that regard. As a whole, I feel that society tries to get by with a limited grasp of what’s happening, then they use technology as an excuse to not know things.