19th century version:Yesterday I headed for one of my favorite places with one of my favorite people to do one of my favorite things--clamming. The moon is waxing and near full, so I knew low tide would fall in the early afternoon.
COST: months of intermittent observing, which I enjoy.
21st century version:
Yesterday I checked the computer for the tides, clicked through a few buttons, and saw that low tide would fall precisely at 1:29 PM. and that the moon was 93% full.
COSTS: computer, internet connection, electricity.
|Jersey fresh quahogs, a couple of hours out of the mud.|
Which gives me more information?
Probably the latter. It's clearly more precise, and it's also more efficient than watching the moon and tides in a particular area for a few seasons.
Which gives me more knowledge?
Depends on what you mean by knowledge, but becoming part of the local natural rhythms requires a deeper understanding than needed to read a computerized tide chart, and maybe even something called wisdom.
Which gives me more pleasure?
Following the rhythms of the moon, of the bay. We do not talk much of pleasure in education, and I'd bet most "educators" would would put pleasure far down on the list of reasons for schools to exist.
Of all the reasons to push for high technology in the classroom, arguing that it prepares students for the 21st workplace, that students need to be trained on computers, is, well, hogwash.
Our students do not lack for information--many carry phones more powerful than the computers that got astronauts to the moon back in 1969, and can easily look up today's tide should the need arise.
We've come to see schools as little institutes for job preparation. We used to call that vocational school.
Given the economy, kids around here might be better off learning how to read the moon the 19th century way.
A wise child might wonder why it's warm enough to clam comfortably in January.