Before I begin, I must quote this poem by Ralph Waldo Emerson, because it so eloquently encapsulates my beliefs about education:
"A subtle chain of countless rings
The next unto the farthest brings;
The eye reads omens as it goes,
And speaks all languages the rose;
And striving to be man, the worm
Mounts through all the spires of form.”
In other words, education is the ladder by which we ascend from the depths of our bestial nature and into the heights of reason. For, as I understand it, “Man is a rational animal”. There is nothing higher, nobler, and more human than for a person to exercise his or her reason.
However, people aren’t born rational; they’re born carnal: slaves to the instincts and passions. Through education, however, the intellect is strengthened to the point where it can put its house (the mind) in order. Bearing this in mind, the Internet is a “pharmike” to education.
“Pharmike” is an ancient Greek term meaning both medicine and poison. So, for the Internet to be a “pharmike” to education, would mean that it can either serve as an aid or a hindrance.
As an example, I’ll use myself. As an aid to further my education, I have used the Internet to go on Khan Academy and watch videos all about derivatives. Now, I knew before hand that the derivative is the difference quotient. However, by watching Khan Academy, I was able to broaden my knowledge of derivatives, by learning the Power Rule, the Chain Rule, and the Product Rule. I also learned how to differentiate the constant e raised to a variable x and the natural logarithm of a variable x, which are impossible to do using the difference quotient method.
Besides using the Internet as an aid to further my formal education, I also use this vast warehouse of information to enrich my mind. For example, I have bought and downloaded E-books on a wide range of esoteric topics. One of these E-books is Einstein’s papers On the Special Theory of Relativity and the General Theory of Relativity. From these papers, I have learned that the speed of light is constant for all observers regardless of their reference frame and that there is no absolute time. Another E-book that I have bought and downloaded is ”The God Particle” by physicist Leon Lederman. From it, I learned more about the Higgs Boson.
The Internet is not only just an aid to learning, however. It can be a great hindrance to it as well. With all that information at my finger tips, many times I have felt and still feel overwhelmed; I do not know where to begin, especially when I’m working on a research paper. To alleviate this stress, I would sometimes stop what I am doing, go to YouTube, and listen to some music for a little bit. However, this supposedly “minute” interval of time to decompress extends to over two hours, reading what my friends have posted on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, or all three websites at the same time.