Lyn Lesch boasts an unique perspective on learning few can match. The twelve years he helmed the Children’s School in Evanston, Illinois placed him on the proverbial front lines of modern education and his success directing the school he founded, a private and progressive institution serving children ages six through fourteen, is notable. Lesch focused, and continues focusing, on what goes on inside children during the learning process rather than embracing a results-oriented approach. This wont continues unabated with his fifth book Intelligence in the Digital Age: How the Search for Something Larger May Be Imperiled. It is a look at the effects the Internet and digital age exert on modern thinking and Lesch backs it with reams of research substantiating his theories and claims.
Lesch takes eleven chapters to explore the issue thoroughly. It isn’t a strict clinical examination of the aforementioned topic; he couples the look at the effects the digital age has on the human mind alongside a searching meditation on the transformative results the modern digital world has on consciousness itself. There is a considerable neuroscientific discussion throughout the entirety of Intelligence in the Digital Age and this contribution to the book is key to understanding and accepting the central thesis at the heart of his book. It buttresses his idea that digital life has produced addictive behavior and eroded the critical thinking skills once so common to human life.
Lesch’s writing, despite the breadth of research defining the work, has a brisk conversational quality but likewise has an easy going eloquence throughout its pages. It’s obviously the product of a seasoned writer and Lesch marshals his research and writing skills alike in such a way that the cumulative impact of the book is far greater than it would have been in the hands of a lesser writer. The structuring of the book, likewise, reflects the experience Lesch brings to bear. Intelligence in the Digital Age unfolds in a coherent and sensible fashion; one can practically track his train of thought on the subject as the book develops.
One possible flaw some readers may recognize is Lesch’s seeming insistence these negative effects are unavoidable. You can sense a longing in his writing for a nominally “simpler” rime when thinkers didn’t enjoy the convenience of reference materials available at their fingertips; the idea an individual can use digital materials in responsible fashion without succumbing to an erosion of critical thinking skills receives short shrift from Lesch. Accepting the entirety of his arguments requires, to a point, that readers are sympathetic to Lesch’s point of view. It isn’t an enormous flaw however.
Despite whatever failings, large or small, one may detect in Intelligence in the Digital Age: How the Search for Something Larger May Be Imperiled, it is apparent Lesch has written a work of enormous social importance and it behooves us to pay attention to its message. He has a thoughtful and intelligent take on the topic and the book never reads like the work of a knee jerk reactionary.