Hello ECI830’s and beyond,
It was another amazing debate this week – to be honest, both sides argued many of the same points which leads me to believe that this topic is one that will stick around for a long time as it’s relevant! Our question this week was, “Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be googled” If you are following along on my blog, you’ll know that I was on the side of disagree! I think it is still the school’s responsible to teach information even if it can be googled – just because Google tracks it down for you, doesn’t mean that the information is correct, relevant or that you’re students understand it. Google is wonderful, I couldn’t live without it and my job would look dramatically different without it, however, it is simply a tool to help facilitate learning and deep understanding.
They made many very convincing points that really got me thinking about the potential for changing our mindset around what and how we teach in the classroom. There is no denying that times are changing and the skills that kids need moving forward are not the same as the ones they needed when we were younger, and so how are we going to change and ensure that we are leaving kids with the knowledge and information they need? The agree group argued that there is a rapid change of knowledge – things are moving lightning speed and we need to keep up and show students how to access this important information so they can keep up. They devalued the use of rote learning and memorization saying that it was no longer a relevant addition in any classroom. This group put huge emphasis on the fact that we have smart phones and the internet with us at all times so we literally have the “keeper of knowledge” in our pocket. They argue that rather than filling our heads with information, why not show kids how to find the information instead! Again, as I mentioned above, the agree group focused on the idea that students now require a very different set of skills than they did before in order to be prepared for the “real world”. In the article this group posted, “The Objective of Education is Learning, Not Teaching” from Wharton University in Pittsburgh posted an interesting question,
“furthermore, even young children are aware of the fact that most of what is expected of them in school can better be done by computers, recording machines, cameras, and so on. They are treated as poor surrogates for such machines and instruments. Why should children — or adults, for that matter — be asked to do something computers and related equipment can do much better than they can?”
When do we just accept the fact that there are certain things that we can streamline and make more effective – not out of laziness but out of the fact that kids need the skills these tools offer and we need to prepare them for a world filled with them! To conclude, both groups did agree that Google and it’s affiliates are a tool that needs to be utilized correctly and effectively in order for it to make a difference. I loved how this group offered up the idea that it is our responsibility to make sure that our own biases are not holding our kids back. Regardless of what we believe a teacher should be, we need to reside the fact that we are the be all end all of teaching and learning and start utilizing the tools we have to think forward to the skills the kids will need.
Next up we have the “disagree” group! I will have to say, I had already sided with this group!
I was hoping that the evidence they presented would reassure my decision to select the disagree side for this argument and they didn’t disappoint! Awesome job to Catherine, Amanda and Shelby! The first and in my opinion, one of the main points this group made was the need for an actual person facilitating the learning. In order to ensure understanding and deep learning is happening we need someone in the classroom to talk to the students, to add text to life connection to the conversation. Google can tell you an answer but it doesn’t offer much past that in the way of deep learning. Google is a wonderful tool but not on its own. Another great point that this group articulated is, if we aren’t focusing on or teaching things that can be googled, what would we be teaching? You can literally Google everything! The next point this group made was that memorization is important to learning. It creates life long memories that will stick with students throughout their schooling and beyond. In the article “Why Memorizing Facts Can be a Keystone to Learning” as posted on The Guardian it reminds us that our brain is a pretty darn cool thing – each time we learn something new, a new pathway and connection is created, the more we repeat it, the stronger that connection gets. It’s like a work out for our brain! We have the capability to learn how to organize our brains to get the most storage and the easiest retrieval. Memorizing isn’t just a party trick – it helps train our brain to be efficient. Finally, and this in my opinion was this groups weakest point, they brought up that Google is just another distraction. This wasn’t as relevant to me as there are many distractions associated with technology and Google is no exception. I don’t think distraction is a reason not use this tool as we should just be responsible and teach kids to use the program respectfully and efficiently, and therefore the weakest point.
Overall, both groups did an excellent job selling their side! Although there were times that I absolutely agreed with the pro group, I couldn’t get past the fact that the teacher plays an integral role in making sure deep understanding is accessible to all students, and that we can’t possibly not teach or focus on anything that can be googled. I am a firm believer in the idea that just because you have an answer, or an answer is accessible, doesn’t mean you understand it or are even reading accurate information.
I’m now going to address one of the big questions Alec posted to our class this week, “In your discipline, is there any content that you feel you could replace? With what?” This is kind of a loaded question because I respect what we are asked to teach kids and understand that it works into a giant continuum that follows a specific schedule so that kids learn what the government feels they need to know, blah, blah, blah…HOWEVER…there are absolutely things missing that I would add. I would, first and foremost, add a unit in health or literacy on digitial citizenship. I recognize that there are issues with adding content as teachers plates are already full, but I think it would work in well with existing content too. I think simply making this content mandatory would solve some problems with the generations of kids moving forward. It is integral that kids understand how to behave online and that their “real life” selves are not too far removed from their “online” selves. Digital citizenship and learning online etiquette young has the potential to stop the wild growth in online bullying, oversharing, etc. that sometimes comes with lack of knowledge. Kids are not dumb, they have grown up with technology and they have a better understanding of the implications technology has than some adults. I teach grade 2, 7 and 8 year old kids and although they don’t all have their own devices they do explore them at school and home. They are curious and want to be active on the internet but their brains are not developed enough to understand long term consequences. On the University of Rochester Medical Center website there is an article titled, “Understanding the Teen Brain” where it explores the fact that adolescents brains are not fully developed until around the age of 25. It also states that there are fundamental differences between a child’s brain and an adult’s brain based on where they both process information. Adults use the rational portion of their brain and children still use the emotional. What better time in my opinion to add these skills into the curriculum! Children NEED to be digitally literate – safe, effective and responsible online.
Thanks for reading!
“Educating the mind, without educating the heart,
is no education at all.”