Really? This is the writing of an actual Washington Post reporter?

Because… hmmm…

OK. If you really read the study, here’s what you might claim. ‘Highly traditional students studying completely passively — that is, listening to a lecture — remember more facts if all they do to remember those facts is take notes, and those notes are taken by hand.’

Now thankfully, the static lecture is a dying phenomenon. And definitely, the key advantages to taking notes on a computer are (a) the ability to rearrange them after taking them, and/or (b) the ability to easily share and compare with others after — or more actively — both during and after an event. So this study has no applicability to most contemporary educational environments.

But, let’s take this reporter’s attempts to curry favor with his white, middle and upper class, traditional Washington Post readers, and consider them.

“Smart” students is emphasized, because his readership won’t admit to having “stupid” kids. He emphasizes one previous study — equally limited — and thus shows this study as “proof.” He repeats “West Point” and “MIT” to beat those parent-readers over the head with their own ambitions.

It’s a fine job of elitist confirmation bias. Like the BMW ads proving why you — dear BMW owner — are so wonderful for having bought this car.

In the end, three things: If you recalled things simply because you wrote them down by hand, you’d never need to carry that shopping list with you. Lectures are a terrible way to get students to understand content, so, studies of lectures should have limited roles in our educational future. And if our dear reporter believes what he writes, let’s be sure that we never catch him using a laptop or phone during any of his information gathering.

  • Ira Socol

Author, Dreamer, Educator: A life in service - NYPD, EMS, disabilities/UDL specialist, tech and innovation leader for education. Co-author of Timeless Learning

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