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Don't let Schooling Interfere With Your Education

Google generation has no need for rote learning - Times Online
Memorising facts and figures is a waste of time for most schoolchildren because such information is readily available a mere mouse click away, a leading commentator has said.

A far better approach would be to teach children to think creatively so that they could learn to interpret and apply the knowledge available online. “Teachers are no longer the fountain of knowledge; the internet is,” Tapscott said. “Kids should learn about history to understand the world and why things are the way they are. But they don’t need to know all the dates. It is enough that they know about the Battle of Hastings, without having to memorise that it was in 1066. They can look that up and position it in history with a click on Google,” he said.

Tapscott denies that his approach is anti-learning. He argues that the ability to learn new things is more important than ever “in a world where you have to process new information at lightning speed”. He said: “Children are going to have to reinvent their knowledge base multiple times. So for them memorising facts and figures is a waste of time.”

Expect the horror storm from those dull witted fact regurgitating company cogs who make up the educational establishment. Information isn't knowledge, memorised facts are unreliable, imagination, conjecture, and just bloody thinking are much more important, and far harder to test and are dangerous to the complacency and obedience that schools prefer.

Comments

Matthew Taylor has an interesting point on the future of learning here: http://www.matthewtaylorsblog.com/thersa/public-spending-westminster-hour/

Yes... but if you relied on talent, curiosity and raw intelligence, how on earth would the dull middle classes be able to carry on dominating medicine, law and all the other cosy professional monopolies that have been passed down the generations? It's vital that we keep fresh blood out. How else can solicitors carry on charging £120 per hour for advice that could be better found on the internet? There's far too much at stake here.

The big problem I have with this idea is that the Internet isn't always available, and without a solid grounding you can't tell if what you're reading is reliable or correct.

By far the greatest hurdle to effective scholarship is knowing what's out there. This is why the preliminary portion of any major academic effort, such as a PhD, is a literature search to familiarise oneself with the extant body of knowledge in the relevant field. For schoolchildren, rather than 20-something students with a couple of degrees behind them, to bootstrap themselves in this fashion is just not going to happen. Probably the greatest failure of the progressive educational movement is to recast elementary schooling as a discovery process rather than a teaching process. It does not become such until after 18 years or so of formal study and instruction (which is to say, the doctoral level or as a skilled practitioner in a mentally demanding profession). Further, as Quentin points out, children lack the critical faculties to discriminate between information sources. There is a terrible lack of rigour on the Web, and until that changes the idea of replacing traditional instruction with Internet-based learning is a chimaera.

I'm reasonably sure I've seen this "kids don't need to learn facts, they can always just look them up" argument before. It's horribly flawed though. Without a basic grounding in boring, utilitarian fact, youngsters (and adults) won't know enough to formulate meaningful questions or construct functional searches for more information. The mistake, in my opinion, is equating "information" with "knowledge".

Might as well stop teaching arithmetic because hand-held calculators do it better.

To see what these people are about look up Beverley Eakman's book The Cloning of the American Mind. Better still,
listen to her
and look at her website.

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