New technology doesn’t really make you smarter

Sayers, who also wrote a long essay entitled “The Lost Tools of Learning” was always interested in education. This passage here is very relevant to our current age when a quick glance at Wikipedia can tell you just about anything you desire to know.

The second suggestion [of progress] is that, once an invention has been brought into being and made public by a creative act, the whole level of human understanding is raised to the level of that inventiveness. This is not true, even within its own sphere of application. The fact that every schoolboy can now use logarithms does not lift him to the intellectual level of the brain that first imagined the method of logarithmic calculation.

The absurdity of the suggestion becomes glaringly obvious when we consider the arts. If a ruthless education in Shakespeare’s language could produce a nation of Shakespeares, every Englishman would at this moment be a dramatic genius. Actually, all that such an education can possibly do is to improve a little the general apparatus of linguistic machinery and so make the way smooth for the appearance of the still rare, still incalculable genius. Genius is, in fact, not subject to the “law” of progress, and it is beginning to be extremely doubtful whether progress is a “law” at all.

-Dorothy Sayers, The Mind of the Maker, Ch.3

We still have the task of teaching our children the fundamentals of HOW to think. Lots of raw knowledge, even advanced and useful knowledge, will be of little use in their hands otherwise.