The potential decline of the mind and memory

BrainYou know the arguments. We need to be concerned about what new technologies are doing to our minds. The idea that we have so much information available to us in a written form is creating “forgetfulness in learners’ because they are fundamentally forgoing the use of the memory”. We will trust external sources and do not seek to remember ideas, facts and so forth. We also need to have a level of scepticism about what is written down. What we read may be inaccurate, biased or blatantly untrue and therefore the written word has an inbuilt set of problems that we have to counter.

It may be surprising to learn that these cautionary thoughts belong to Plato who was expressing his concerns in the fourth century B.C. He was talking up oratory and didn’t want his students to become overly dependant upon the practise of writing, for the reasons outlined above.

It is funny to think that in 2017 we maintain the same concerns about what is the ability to access the answer to everything by ‘Googling it’ doing to our minds and memories? We also have to be discerning about on-line texts – and treat them with healthy scepticism. How little things have changed.


Author: Ian Coombs

UK based teacher and educator. Former secondary headteacher. Currently researching and developing training opportunities with interests into how we help young people make safe, sensible and productive use of new media and technology.

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