But what about the factual information that makes up our adult lives? Is it important to distinguish a noun from a verb, to know who the Secretary of State is, to know the capital of Holland, or even where Holland is, to know how many ounces there are in a pound and how many pints in a gallon? Or is it important not to clutter our minds with minutia so that we have room for the important stuff like using computers and navigating the endless features of our cell phones?
I know which side I would come down on but I'm from an older generation that simply uses a cell phone to make phone calls and take the occasional picture. But my memory is full of the most incredible things apart from the number of pints in a gallon, pounds in a ton and meters in a kilometer. I get an incredible sense of joy when I recognize a drumlin, an erratic or a raised beach when I'm driving around the countryside. It's a genuine thrill when I can recall the name Copland in response to a crossword clue "composer Aaron". The fact that I can remember long-ago-learned facts when I can't remember what I did yesterday is somehow rewarding, reassuring and satisfying.
But what of today's younger generation who do not seem to be committing things to long-term memory with the same gusto that we did in our youth. What will they have to recall in their old age?