We say and hear it all the time: Less is more.
We can not learn nor get others to learn faster than is possible; learning requires time to knead the dough of those ideas in the fingers of our brain, to bake them in the oven of our mind. Yet our minds grow increasingly like white water over which the pebbles of ideas skip, sink, and disappear, leaving with no concentric circles of thought radiating out.
We have mistaken more (information, data) with wisdom, understanding, and insight. Of course we need to know and teach our students how to skim, to scan; but we must also require, of ourselves and our students, the slow, patient, deliberative thinking that leads to new and deeper understanding.
Some books I devour in a day, as I did yesterday when I swallowed Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on the plane from Denver to San Francisco. Others, I read for a year or perpetually, sipping them, nibbling them one idea at a time, so rich (like truffles) is each idea that I do not want to be distracted from thinking about it by simultaneously ingesting others. This is how I have been reading Gardens: An Essay on the Human Condition, by Robert Harrison, You Are Not a Gadget, by Jaron Lanier, Nietzsche, and the Bible. I am in conversation with these books, these authors; I cannot read them slowly enough.
I am making new, deliberate choices as a reader, a writer, and a teacher in the last year which are beginning to pay off and make more sense the longer I live these choices. We must spend more time on fewer things if we are not only to understand them ourselves but to teach others--our students, our children--to do the same. Understanding and insight come from drinking from a fountain not a fire hydrant.