Old methods, new tools

The internet is filled with new age learning apps. If you do a simple search, you will see results such as “The seven best iPad apps” to memorize the periodic table. In times where the periodic table can be looked up on in 5 seconds from anywhere though, the value of committing it to rote memory diminishes faster than a spontaneous chemical reaction.

Its tempting to adopt technology as an end in itself. However, technology isn’t an end. It’s merely a tool. The more important question is what technology should help us achieve. A paintbrush can create art that transcends ages. But a paintbrush itself has no inherent value. Technology isn’t very different.

The periodic table is a map to understand our elements and their properties better. This helps us use them to to solve real world problems. The mere act of memorizing it will probably help you ace a standardized test. It isn’t, however, going to solve problems.

An iPad app used to memorize the periodic table is the same as using a smartphone to send out a telegram.

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