Have you ever found yourself googling things such as “how to multiply fractions”, “how many ml in a liter”, or “what is the capital of ___”? Or maybe you’ve found your self googling things like “how to lose weight”, “how many days in a year”, or “how many countries are in the world”? If you related to any one of the questions then you are not alone. Not only have I too googled one or two… ok… several of these questions, but so have thousands and thousands of other people. I know this because these questions can be found in The 1000 Most Asked Questions On Google. (I highly advise you to take a look if you haven’t already. It is pretty hilarious.) What I found crazy about this list was how many of the questions were likely taught in school, and yet, here they are being googled by a huge portion of the population:
This leads me to this week’s debate in EDTC 400. The debate topic was no other than, “Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled: Agree or disagree? In the proposition we had Sydney, arguing that yes, schools should no longer focus on teaching what can be googled. In the opposition we had Aurorua, arguing that no, we should continue to focus on teaching things even though they can be googled.
Proposition: “Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled”
During the proposition, Sydney argued that not teaching things that can be googled:
- encourages innovative thinking.
- promotes individuality.
- allows for more time to be spent teaching un-googlable things.
- better prepares students for the future.
Prior to the debate, I disagreed with Sydney’s stance, but after hearing her argument, I was enlightened. During high school I often found myself annoyed by lessons that I found no use for. I always thought to myself, “if I ever find myself needing this information in the future, I could just google it!” I was also often annoyed by teachers who were so bad at their job that I would have to go home at the end of the day and teach myself the lesson again using google. In cases such as these I find myself agreeing with Sydney. According to “Advent of Google“:
The curriculum lists things that children must learn. There is no list stating why these things are important.
The above quote reminds me of a story my cooperating teacher told me. He had been a part of the committee of educators that were in charge of rewriting the arts ed. curriculum. One of the members of the committee was so passionate about kings and knights that he wanted them incorporated into the arts ed. curriculum… no… he fought to have them incorporated into the curriculum! My cooperating teacher explained that this educator had created an arts ed. unit plan involving a theme of kings and knights that he loved so much he wanted other educators to have to teach as well. I am an arts ed. major. I know that kings and knights have nothing to do with art. Sure, if you had students who also loved kings and knights then it could be cool, but should every single students actually have to learn that? I mean common!
My cooperating teacher’s story provides some insight into why the curriculum is the way it is. Clearly, what some teachers think is important to teach students, others teachers, such Sydney, would think not. Perhaps we should spend more time teaching students how to think innovatively like Sydney suggests, as well as, how to research and filter information. Five Tips for Teaching Students How to Research and Filter Information is a great sit on just that and it has tons of free tips, tools, and resources such as the one below.
Opposition: “Schools should focus on teaching things that can be googled”
During the opposition, Aurora argued that not teaching things that can be googled:
- exposes students to tons of misinformation.
- limits further exploration of topics.
- restrains the encouragement, inspiration, and motivation students receive from teachers.
- can result in a lack of basic skills that cannot be learnt through google.
While I was slightly persuaded by Sydneys argument, Aurora reminded me of the reasons why I initially disagreed with the proposition. Not only that, but she gave me even more reasons to side with her. I previously mentioned the times when I had to teach myself using google because of a crappy teacher. What I did not include was the times that even google couldn’t teach me. Although the information was there when I clicked search, it ended up being inaccurate. Sure enough when I handed my assignment in, it turned out that despite what I had put, it is indeed faster to fly against the earths rotation. Sometimes I still think about that and wonder if I was actually right, almost all internet sources say so, but yet I didn’t get the mark. It is almost mind boggling if you research it too much, but Andreas Ekström puts my mind at ease:
Behind every algorithm is always a person, a person with a set of personal beliefs that no code can completely eradicate.
One might argue that teachers too have sets of personal beliefs. The story from my cooperating teacher exemplifies this, but it is important to remember that while people can say what ever they want online, the classroom has its boundaries.