As a caveat, the following paragraphs include my rambling thoughts on an issue brought up in an article (linked below) by Larry Sanger (the founder of wikipedia), as prompted by a morning of not much to do, and this article that made my brain crunch for the first time in a while.
Thought I might pass along this article that a friend commented on via twitter. Very provoking in many ways, because it checks some of the mindsets I have associated somewhat with 21st century teaching/learning. While I very much subscribe to the ideas that the way we teach should be changing, particularly because the way our students access information and work with it is changing, I do think the author makes some interesting points.
The point I like best that he makes is that facts are necessary to learning because they provide you a framework in which to put other learning. Even though knowledge is still the lowest level of Bloom’s taxonomy, it is a level, and one that must be mastered as part of learning. To use his example: the knowledge that Battle of Hastings took place in 1066 is irrelevant and unhelpful unless students already have a fact-based framework in which to place that new knowledge.
I agree with him there, but with an extension. I think the point of our educational system should be to expose children to as much knowledge as possible, to provide them a framework in which they can place the knowledge they gain, and then to go a step further. We must move from the 20th century model of being content that our students “know” things, to helping them figure out how best to USE that knowledge to enhance their lives and the lives of others. That, I think, is the biggest difference between 20th century and 21st century education.
Just as architects build both beautiful, sturdy, and useful buildings, in that the form follows function, so to we must craft our form of teaching to benefit the function of teaching. In the same way that we broaden our expectations for our students from what they must know to also include what they must be able to do, we must broaden our methods as we learn to be both sages on the stage AND guides on the side. There is a necessary balance that we will have to walk between helping our students know and understand, so that they can evaluate and create, which is exactly what they want to do anyway.
See link to article below.