Apr 17, 2007

losing skills by improving technology

Modern technology is great; We save bundles on the phone bill. Whether you use Google Talk, Skype, or one of many such services. Whether you use VOIP services for your regular phone.
Communication has become fairly instant. Email. Messenger. Google Chat. Blogging. Downloading movies/music/software (legally of course). One million and one other ways as well.
But there is a downside as well.

My kids cannot tell time. They also cannot tie their own shoes.

This is the result of digital watches and Velcro.

I know plenty of yeshiva guys who can hardly read a page of gemara on their own. This is a result of ArtScroll.

I know plenty of people who cannot spell (typos not included). This is a result of the proliferation of sms text messaging that has developed its own "language" of shortened words. This is also the result of spellcheckers and automatic spell correcting in word processors.

While modern technology is great, it has its bad side effects.

Sure, ArtScroll has done great work opening treasures of Torah and making them available to people who otherwise would never have been able to learn a page of gemara. But all the guys who should be able to learn on their own but have been relying on ArtScroll gemaras as the easy path are now unintended roadkill.

Sure Velcro saves people time and hassle on many things, but kids do not learn to tie their shoes.


Does it matter? I do not know. What is the big deal if a kid needs to tell time by looking at his digital watch and does not ever learn to read an old fashioned timepiece? Who cares of he cannot tie his shoes? Is he missing any skills that will not allow him to survive in modern society?

Maybe I am just too old fashioned that I think these skills are important. Maybe they really are not.

I have been thinking about getting a GPS device. You know - those little machines that talk to you and tell you which way to drive so you don't get lost. It calculates the best route and helps you get to your destination in a timely fashion.

I am kind of neurotic about directions. When I get into the car to drive to a new unfamiliar destinations, I will usually take out the map and check the route. I will also do this before I get in the car. Then while we are driving I will make my wife hold the road map and follow along the route with occasionally updating me with directions.

Getting a GPS would save all that aggravation and my driving her crazy. But will it make me lose my sense of direction? Sure I occasionally get lost now, and with a GPS those days of driving around looking for a street not on the map (or with the map not available) will be long gone. But getting lost around Israel has also allowed me to see places I never otherwise would have seen.

Are all these time saving devices worth it? Do we really save time? I have read articles and studies that indicate that with all the time saving devices we have and use, our lives should be less stressful and more enjoyable. Yet, the studies say, our lives are full of stress and we have less time available than ever before.

So do I get the GPS and lose the skill of naturally getting from one place to another or do I keep on winging it every time I get behind the wheel?


  1. get the GPS and only use it if necessary. like if you are really lost or going somewhere very far and totally unfamiliar.

  2. good compromise.. but once you have it you probably use it even when you dont need it... like even just to go to the supermarket!! :-)

  3. raf

    remember ma trying to teach us to read an analog clock - she made those paper plate clocks and tested us.

    anyway, dig clocks are fine but we keep a few analogs around and make sure each of the kids still can use them. I also work with them on looking at the position of the sun to get a good estimate of the time, in case they are lost. Shoes, who cares laces, velcro, doesn't bother me.

    Gemara, I am sure that when Rashi started to be printed on the side, people said the same thing. In fact, when gemaras were printed at all , they said, woe is to us that our nation no longer knows the torah by heart. It was a shailoh if it was assur di'orayso to print a sefer. What really is the practical use of "picking up a gemara w/o artscroll"? It's not a skill like picking up a halacha sefer! If someone is lost and can't reada gemara w/o it (me included) so pick up a chumash instead. Why is it SOOOO important to read gemara on yor own? Mishne berurah, kitzur S"A, etc would be a better argument for studying w/o english.

    GPS, for trips I love it. We are the same. I sit with a map before every trip and reveiw all roads and alternates so if there's a problem, I don't freak out.

    luv ya!

  4. You guys think too much; if you want it get it, if not; not.

    Most people can't make a fire out of two sticks and the world seems to have survived the loss of that skill.

  5. hey bro - usually you say I don't think at all, what gives......

  6. Dan - then I would not have anything to blog about!!

    shaya - I do not remember...but it sounds like a good idea. maybe I will try it.

  7. I agree with your point Re:Artscroll.

    Ma La'Asot?

  8. My kids don't know how to dial a phone either LOL. A GPS saves gas and time.

  9. Jacob, Since it's Artscroll, I believe that would be Ma Laasos.

    In the States bowling alleys now have "bumpers" that go up so children don't have to worry about rolling the ball into the gutter. My 8 year old may never learn how to bowl, but at least he's learned how to deflect the ball off the bumpers for maximum scoring. Maybe he should become a pool player.

  10. moi - saving money on gas is a good reson to getone that I did not think of. thanks.

    Soccerdad - that's an interesting idea. new skills have been created and learned...

  11. Why did the Baal Teshuva cross the road?

    Because Artscroll told him to.


Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...