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Education and the Hemispheres Revisited (fwd)

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Mon Jan 8 18:47:41 EST 1996

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>Date:	Mon, 8 Jan 1996 12:18:49 -0300
>Reply-To: Alternative Approaches to Learning Discussion List <ALTLEARN at SJUVM.STJOHNS.EDU>
>Comments:     Resent-From: Bob Zenhausern <DRZ at sjuvm.stjohns.edu>
>Comments:     Originally-From: Robert Logan <logan at PHYSICS.UTORONTO.CA>
>From:	Bob Zenhausern <DRZ at SJUVM.STJOHNS.EDU>
>Subject:      Re: Education and the Hemispheres Revisited (fwd)
>X-To:         Chatback Discussion Group <chatback at sjuvm.STJOHNS.EDU>,
>              Learning Styles Theory and Research <EDSTYLE at SJUVM.STJOHNS.EDU>,
>              CEC Technology and Media List <cec-tam at sjuvm.stjohns.edu>,
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>To:	Multiple recipients of list CHARTER <CHARTER at SJUVM.STJOHNS.EDU>
>Message-Id: <96Jan8.125707arg.6232 at secyt.gov.ar>
>This was sent to the Altlearn list in response to my original statement.
>I will share with all the lists it was originally sent to.
>----------------------------Original message----------------------------
>I enjoyed Bob Zenhausern's remarks on education and the hemispheres.  I
>am intrigued about his claims for dealing with dislexia and hope that he
>will provide us with a reference or an excerpt from his work in this
>area.  In fact I hope that others will join in and share their insights
>regarding this fascinating topic.  Also Bob please provide us with a
>reference to the multitasking work of Rita and Ken Dunn that you alluded
>to in your posting.
>I agree with Bob's remarks about the importance of using both left and
>right-brain channels for dealing with the computer.  I believe that the
>strength of the computing is that it integrates both the left and right
>brain ways of thinking and this is what makes it such a powerful tool, nay
>a language.  I regard computing as more than just a technology or a medium
>of communication but as a language in itself which is part of an
>evolutionary chain of languages starting with speech and which also
>includes math, writing and science.
>We should bear in mind that all thinking and processing involves both
>sides of the brain but that language skills associated with speech,
>writing, math and science seem to be concentrated in the left lobe.
>Spatial processing like the kind that is required for gathering
>information in a video environment seems to be concentrated in the right
>I have written about the impacts on education of the media of print,
>television and computing based on this insight in my recent book, The
>Fifth Language: Learning a Living in the Computer Age (Stoddart
>Publishing, Toronto, 1995) which are presented below in the spirit of
>continuing the dialogue started by Bob Zenhausern:
>Print promotes educational activity because in addition to informing its
>readers through its content, its use, unlike that of television, requires
>certain cognitive skills to decode its content.  To use  the alphabet
>(Logan, 1986) a writer (or a reader) must learn to first analyze each
>spoken word into its basic phonemes and then code for writing (or decode
>for reading) those phonemes into (from) meaningless visual signs, the
>letters of the alphabet.  In addition to promoting the skills of analysis
>and coding, alphabetic literacy also teaches abstraction and
>classification.  Computer literacy also involves similar skills of
>analysis, coding, abstraction and classification, and hence, reinforces
>the skills of literacy and the left brain modes of organization associated
>with them.  In addition to this computers also promote right brain forms
>of patterning and organization because of their use of more global
>categories such as files, fields, and databases.  This is one of the
>reason that the microcomputer has the potential of becoming such a
>powerful teaching tool.
>Television, on the other hand, has none of these features, this is why it
>can only inform and can not really educate.  Education can be defined as
>what is left over after you have forgotten all that you learned.  This
>facetious definition of education contains an important insight into the
>effects of interactive media such as the written word or the computer.
>Learning facts is not an education, but learning how to process
>information or data is.  A possible reason that higher learning or science
>did not develop in pre-literate societies is that there was no
>interactive medium available to process information.  Writing provided
>such a medium and print reinforced or enhanced this quality.  This
>explains the sudden burst in education, scholarship, research and science,
>first after the invention of writing in Sumer and Egypt, then after the
>development of the phonetic alphabet in the Levant and Greece and,
>finally, after the invention of the Gutenberg printing press in
>Renaissance Europe (Logan, 1986). We are experiencing a similar explosion
>of activity with computers.
>The microcomputer combines the educational advantages of the written word
>with the graphic capabilities of video.  It is a multisensory medium
>capable of providing the same information in alternative modes (textual,
>graphic or animated).  Computers can deliver more data to students in
>easily accessible forms, and if programmed cybernetically, only as
>required. (pp. 192-3)
>First the electrification and then the electronification of information
>has resulted in new patterns of information usage which resemble the oral
>tradition in many ways.  This trend which began with the introduction of
>the telegraph and continued with the use of the telephone, radio, and
>television is findings its most complete actualization with microcomputers
>linked together through the Internet.  Paradoxically the bulk of the
>information being transmitted on the Net is still text.  In fact print is
>still holding its own as the sales of books and other forms of reading
>matter continues to increase.  The information which is now collected in z
>~ books has been gathered, written, edited and typeset using electronic
>media but the format of print on paper seems to still be the most sensible
>format for reading text.  Only the very briefest messages such as e-mail
>are read exclusively on a video screen.  When lengthy files are
>transmitted from one computer to another in most readers will make a hard
>copy of the document.  The reason is simple; reading on a CRT is an
>unnatural activity because of the way in which the brain processes video
>information.  Reading is a left brain activity whereas viewing video is a
>right brain activity because the mosaic pattern of light pulses must be
>reassembled by the brain to create an image.  I believe there is an
>inherent conflict in reading directly from a CRT or video screen.  This is
>why the book is still such a popular medium and will continue to be so.
>The Internet will not replace the book when it comes to the distribution
>of lengthy literary material but it will become the medium of choice for
>short texts and multimedia formats. (pp. 277-8)
>I welcome comments from members of our discussion group.  I hope you have
>found these musings interesting or helpful.
>Bob Logan
>Dept. of Physics
>Univ. of Toronto
>Toronto, Ontario
>M5S 1A7

       Prof. Mariela Szirko,
       <postmaster at neubio.sld.ar> 
       Centro de Investig. Neurobiologicas, Ministry of
Health & Welfare, Argentine Republic; and 
       Lab. of Electroneurobiological Res., 
Hospital "Dr. Jose Tiburcio Borda", Municipality of Buenos Aires,
       Office:  Phone/Fax (54 1) 306 -7314
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