The U.S. military is hooked on PowerPoint, reports the New York Times. Some are fighting back.
“PowerPoint makes us stupid,” Gen. James N. Mattis of the Marine Corps, the Joint Forces commander, said this month at a military conference in North Carolina. (He spoke without PowerPoint.) Brig. Gen. H. R. McMaster, who banned PowerPoint presentations when he led the successful effort to secure the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar in 2005, followed up at the same conference by likening PowerPoint to an internal threat.
“It’s dangerous because it can create the illusion of understanding and the illusion of control,” General McMaster said in a telephone interview afterward. “Some problems in the world are not bullet-izable.”
. . . Commanders say that behind all the PowerPoint jokes are serious concerns that the program stifles discussion, critical thinking and thoughtful decision-making.
University professors “know that PowerPoint shuts up discussion and shuts down critical thinking,” writes Margaret Soltan of University Diaries. Her post unleashed her commenters’ pent-up PowerPoint rage.
From a professor:
Some teachers put their entire presentation on powerpoint and post it to the web. Result – students download the powerpoints and don’t come to class.
A college student:
At least 80% of my classes revolve around the powerpoint. . . . It is an issue with our culture of “get straight to the point” – literally. the powerpoint – 15 slides with 5 bullet points each dont even given to scratch the surface of some of the more complex problems or ideas that are trying to be presented….
You pay $3,000 for a class to have a professor read bullet points off the slides. It has greatly diminished the capacity for people to actually communicate anything of substance.
Textbook manufacturers supply PowerPoint slides, which cuts the prep time for P3s (PowerPoint Professors), writes a former college instructor. P3s “can get quite rattled when asked an ‘off-PowerPoint’ question.”