Does the term "informational text" dominate your stream of Common Core consciousness? I wonder what more felicitous phrase it has edged out of my own ruminations. Dover Beach? Fettuccine Alfredo? Buy One, Get One Free?
Acquiring information is crucial to attaining knowledge. But as Leon Wieseltier, The New Republic's literary editor, recently observed, information and knowledge are not the same thing. Only by drawing on our senses, memories, observations, and experiences can we synthesize and interpret facts and information astutely enough to arrive at knowledge, if not wisdom.
Wieseltier cautions that our increasing reliance on digital devices is "transforming us into a culture of data, into a cult of data, in which no human activity and no human expression is immune to quantification." He recently told graduates at Brandeis University that there is still value in "the quest for the true and the good and the beautiful." As study of the humanities declines and our attention spans diminish, that quest is becoming increasingly rare.
Alas, I’ll likely tweet this post—Wieseltier's warning that "Twitter is one of the biggest assaults on the human attention span ever" aside. Here’s hoping I have the stamina to return to a more worthy endeavor, like finishing Between Meals by A.J. Liebling, a guy who had his own vices. According to his New Yorker colleague Joseph Mitchell, Liebling used bacon as a bookmark. You can't do that with an iPad.