Should Schools not focus on teaching things that can be easily googled?
We live in a society where information is at our fingertips. The majority of the world has a computer in their pockets, easily accessed at a moment’s notice. Our phones and computers are loaded with music from any era, social media that connects us with celebrities and experts in fields that interest us, oh, and the entire internet! You are interested in how to make a flambé- google it and in seconds you have access to countless videos from experts and home chefs on YouTube telling you how to create this culinary masterpiece. You want to know how to “apply for EI, apply for cerb, make hand sanitizer” just type “how to” into the search engine and this will be prompted for you (these are the things that were prompted when I simply typed “how to” today). The question becomes with this incredible access to information, how does that impact education and classrooms? Should teachers be teaching content that can easily be found on the internet? This week’s Ed tech debate gave great space and discussion to this issue. The conversation gave thoughts and research into how we as modern day educators need to consider this in our planning, teaching and assessment practices.
In the article Creating Innovators: Why America’s Education System is Obsolete Erica Swallow theorized “American schools educate to fill children with knowledge — instead they should be focusing on developing students’ innovation skills and motivation to succeed”. She believes that since information is accessible it is essential that we shift the focus from rote memory, to “Critical thinking and problem solving (the ability to ask the right questions), Collaboration across networks and leading by influence, Agility and adaptability, Initiative and entrepreneurial ism, Accessing and analyzing information, Effective written and oral communication, Curiosity and imagination”. A large part of me agrees with Swallow’s points. We must go beyond the rote and enter the world of deeper level of thinking and application. Personally, in my classroom I teach students about the World Religions. One such example where I go beyond memorization and into critical analysis is when I talk about rules and foundational beliefs in each Religion. When I teach Buddhism, students can easily Google the 8 Fold Path. So, I spend time focusing on how one practices the path, how that path is evident in their personal lives, the challenges and positives of living the path, the connection to other Major World Religions rules. I do not necessarily care if they memorize them, they can just ask Siri, rather, I want them to take time to analyze them, synthesize it and personally connect with them.
In the article, All Students Need Common Foundational Skills, Cynthia G. Brown adds onto the notion that our focus as educators should be on deeper level thinking and understanding. She contends that High School should be a stepping stool that plants seeds of curiosity and critical reasoning. She states: “A so-called college- and career-ready curriculum must not imply that every graduate needs a four-year traditional college education ending in a bachelor’s degree. What are needed are courses of study that prepare each student well for quality post secondary-learning opportunities that lead to good jobs”. So, rather than focusing on rote memory and skills, it is about a plethora of content and deeper level thinking so that young adults can find their purpose and passion.
Curtis and Lisa’s LOTI model gave great structure and questions that reflective practitioners can ask themselves when planning units and daily lesson plans. As I prepared for this post and read through it again I felt like it was a “Choose your own Adventure”. It gave structure and questions that help create a pathway of intentional teaching instruction and assessment. It also brought up potential issues so that a teacher could plan to curtail those before an issue arises. I have found in my room when I am using technology (or any teaching practice really), the more I can tell them of past student experiences and/or give them potential road blocks and ways to overcome them, the more empowered and independent they become in their learning process. To add on, I also saw a correlation between the LOTI model and the SAMR model that was brought up in Debate #1. Both models get teachers to name their true intention of using a strategy in their room with the ultimate goal being about enhancing student learning.
Jocelyn and Daina’s stance that teachers take information beyond the basic information (i.e. reading it on the internet) and give it life through explanation, story and connection to other learning really resonated with me. We cannot think just because a student reads something that it is truly learnt and filed into deep knowing and understanding. We know that when students personally connect, when they curate information they find interesting and are curious about, when students are given space to discuss with their peers and hear other opinions the more the information is embedded into their brains. Personally, I love to cook and create in the kitchen. I can read a million recipes about dicing and sauteing, but eventually I have to get in the kitchen and cook something! The practice is as important as the research because it is through the doing that we take the moment from reading about it and actualize it.
At the end of the day, I am once again on the fence with this subject. I believe we have a duty to teach basic skills, to assess a student’s ability to retain information and the “old school” paper and pen test still has its place in the classroom. However, I also see the benefits of deeper level thinking, reasoning, applying and connection. I believe that deeper level learning comes when we move beyond the foundation and can see a big picture of the content in a student’s personal life and the world. In conclusion, I believe there are many ways that students can show their learning. Therefore, it is essential we diversify our instructional and assessment practices to give students a variety of tools that will come in handy in their future