It’s tough to shoot without ammo

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It’s tough to shoot without ammo

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I went shopping for my daughter, and the cashier asked for her phone number so she could earn points for her membership. But my daughter had recently changed her phone number, and I couldn’t remember it. Then I realized that I have only a few numbers in my memory. After the invention of karaoke, people stopped memorizing lyrics to songs. Now no one tries to memorize phone numbers since they are all saved in our contact lists.

With the emergence of smart devices, we are suffering from “digital dementia.” I looked up the self-diagnosis. Ask yourself if the only numbers you memorize are your home and office numbers, if 80 percent of the conversations you have are through e-mail or social network platforms, if your only handwriting involves signing a bill, if you don’t look at maps after you installed a navigator, and if you cannot recognize someone even after a few encounters. If these symptoms apply to you, you may have digital dementia. And I am a serious case.

As smart devices become more intelligent, our brain function slows down day by day. The brain’s mechanism to store information weakens because we can always look up the information.

Of course, information is now everywhere, and creative networking skills are far more important. As a result, the information stored in your brain may not be so meaningful. However, does the information you don’t remember and pull off the Internet really belong to you? Are decisions and thinking based on such knowledge reliable?

Beginning with the 2017 school year admissions, Korean history will return as a mandatory subject for the College Scholastic Ability Test. Critics argue that conflicts over historical perspectives may cause a lot of confusion, and the selection of the history textbook will lead to ideological discord. Also, when it becomes a mandatory subject for the CSAT, they worry students will resort to private tutoring and after-school cram institutions, putting the subject of history “back on track” - a subject that requires intense memorization.

I looked through my daughter’s textbooks from elementary school. The content always proposed, “Let’s think about ...” Thinking about a topic is a good way to study, but students first need to build knowledge to think. As a backlash from the conventional memorization-oriented curriculum, students are required to think critically about a subject.

Hanyang University professor Pyo Jung-hoon wrote on his SNS: “It would be better if Korean history becomes a dreadful subject that requires immense memorization. The students need to have enough ammunition to think and decide where to shoot and how much. When I teach students, I realize they don’t have much ammunition, both on Korean history and world history. You have to memorize facts before applying them.”

*The author is a deputy culture and sports editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.

By YANG SUNG-HEE

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