Monday, September 07, 2009

Facts And Orginal Thought

Recently, I had opportunity to chat with someone who has been involved in elementary school education for well over thirty years. This post is prompted by one of her observations. W said that knowing facts or being well informed is not nearly as important for children as being able to take those facts and learned knowledge and apply it in unconventional ways. In effect she is suggesting there is no room for the average kid who is not particularly creative or original. While such a kid may be able to learn and reproduce the learning in its original context they may not be able to transfer it over to situations where it does not obviously belong.

I was almost prompted to ask if general knowledge and awareness of the world is not important because there is Google and also what percent of the kids she came across in her career were able to do what she thought was important. While creative and original thinking is undeniably important, it does seem like a tough (if not impossible) standard by which to measure every child's success in school. What I find hard to understand as well is how a mastery of the data is not important when success is measured by the ability to slice, dice and analyze it. In the article, I have referenced, Bamber Gascoigne, a well known quiz-master has this to say :

“In many ways modern education is much better, teaching people to think, but there is a disadvantage, which is that time is limited and if you spend time analysing you don’t have time to learn a basic structure or framework of facts.”

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