Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Knowledge Matters - especially in the Age of Google

"We can always look it up."

That sense of complaceny about acquiring knowledge is at the root of our most serious educational challenges, and it poses risks far beyond what most people would expect. From literacy to institutional knowledge to "knowing history" so you don't repeat it, having a sense of core knowledge is essential to being a well-educated person - a person on whom nothing is lost.

I've given more thought to this idea of core knowledge recently after reading Scott Newstock's great piece for The Chronicle, How to Think Like Shakespeare. Newstock and other educational and cultural leaders like Dan Willingham know that "the more you know" the more you can know. The brain makes sense of new information by connecting it to old knowledge. The brain likes patterns and departments of information from which it can compare and connect and extrapolate. This is the foundation of ED Hirsch's ideas of "cultural literacy" and the role that knowledge and allusions play in our ability to learn. And, along those lines, it is worth promoting the Knowledge Matters Movement, developed and promoted by Robert Pondiscio of the Fordham Institute.

There is much to said for simply "knowing stuff" and not always believing it's enough to be able to "look it up."

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