If you work in public education, you've undoubtedly heard people debating the value of "memorizing" (read: quickly learning) content knowledge in school. Someone -- usually a principal, professional development presenter, or teacher beholden to some pedagogical fad -- will point out that, through the internet, students have access to a wealth of information; so why bother learning facts? Who needs to know anything when everyone can just search for everything?
What they are missing is that knowledge is an essential ingredient in higher level thinking skills. If we don't know who, what, where, and when, then we'll struggle to discuss how and why. If we can't connect the 5 Ws (+ H), evaluation, analysis, and synthesis are impossible. They are also missing the fact that many real life situations reward the first to be right, so knowing an answer (or quickly generating analysis/synthesis/etc.) without looking anything up does more than just get an A on a test -- it makes you look smart and maybe actually be smart; it can make you more successful than the idiot with a Chrome browser. This is true for teachers too (check out a recent ReadThinkWriteSpeak article about the need for greater content studies/review during teachers' professional development). (Intro article continues below.)
Bloom's Taxonomy is one of the most insightful and useful education concepts ever. It is used and reused, relabeled and repackaged, occasionally forgotten but always resurrected. And when people poo-poo knowledge acquisition as prep for a game show or intellectually elitist or old-fashioned or anything else, they are abandoning some of the best research and practices available. All higher order thinking skills are built on foundation of knowledge, so unless your students are all rare savants, then teaching knowledge is a prerequisite for teaching other "21st century skills."
I remind students all the time: If you don't know stuff, you can't think stuff; if you can't think stuff, you can't do much.
Please enjoy this short (~16 minute) solo episode. Leave comments and questions below. If any listeners/followers disagree about the significance of knowledge, I'm looking for volunteers to discuss and debate this issue.
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