Aaron Yang

High school Mathematics teacher,

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How should we process information?

This was just something i had in the back of my mind. Our society is progressing at an accelerated rate, and i was just wondering your thoughts on this. Kids nowadays are being bombarded with so much data, real-life and virtual.

Can they harness this influx of information or should they learn to slow down?

Can we take more in by doing more activities and flooding our brains with information and stimulus? or by letting life slowly "sink in"?

There's so much I want to learn about the world and it feels like I'm learning too slow. I have books piled up on my desk waiting to be finished and at 300wpm it would take my a while to finish. I have looked into speed reading and photo-reading, both seem like a hoax. After finishing The Dumbest Generation, The Emperor of All Maladies, Psycho-cybernetics, Social Intelligence, and the Wealth of Nations, there will be so much more I want to know and learn. There's a whole shelf at Barnes and Nobles that I would love to go through, but it seems like learning is a grueling slow process and my instant-gratification wired brain wants it all NOW hahah...

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    Mar 26 2013: .
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    Yes!

    We have to "sink in" danger.
    Our bio-evolving brain can never catch up with the growth of data.
    Facing the data, we are getting foolish quickly.

    So, making these data means making "invalid happiness"!?
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    Mar 13 2013: You don't need to control your brain's learning process any more than you need to train your skin to get wet when you jump in the water. If you spend time exposing your senses to data your brain will do its astonishing thing. The key is to expose yourself to quality data. Video games and most TV programming is not quality data. Budget your time for balanced exposure. Recreation and amusement is vital, but don't neglect quality data! No rush.
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      Mar 13 2013: What if our brains were constantly exposed to a large influx of information, would our brains eventually adapt to it?
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        Mar 13 2013: I assume you mean this barrage of exposure is happening while we are conscious. I can only speak for myself. When I experience data inputs in quantities beyond my processing ability the excess just falls to the floor like product on a fast-moving conveyor belt. I can't get it all. I might be able to improve the amount I can process, but the belt can always speed-up until I can't keep up again. To learn well I must be aware of, and comfortable with, my "best pace".
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    Mar 13 2013: I don't think there's any one answer for this, sometimes you have to take in info fast and sometimes you have to have the discipline and self-respect to go slow.
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    Mar 13 2013: Imagine looking at a page of text, focusing on all of it, and your eyes burn all the symbols into your mind. This happens before your mind starts to relate the information. The problem is recall. Can you imagine a solution to improve recall?
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      Mar 13 2013: I had a comprehensive plan for it once, but I forgot where I put it.
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    Mar 13 2013: Data becomes information, which can then become knowledge.
    "Sinking in" is merely an analogy for the connection of information that becomes knowledge.
    It would seem that there is a developmental structure to this. Language for example starts off by our learning the sounds are a very early age. Patricia Kuhl says, "We can discriminate the sounds of our own language, but not those of foreign languages. So the question arises: when do those citizens of the world turn into the language-bound listeners that we are? And the answer: before their first birthdays"
    I will suggest that there is other developmental structure like this to learning. Without a foundation of information to support additional connections knowing does not occur. We can mimic, which can sometime pass for knowing but there is no connections to build on.
  • Mar 13 2013: Concentrate on quality information, not quantity.