This weeks first debate topic was “Schools should not be teaching anything that can be googled.” Agree or Disagree?
“The M Word”
My initial instinct on this topic is bias towards the disagree side because of the experiences I have had in my teaching career. Some argue that students don’t need to know basic math facts because they will always have a calculator, but I have found it is incredibly difficult to teach mathematics concepts to students who do not know their basic math facts. I see it as more than simple memorization (aka “The M Word”), it is also about developing problem solving and critical thinking skills. Ben Johnson argues that this memorization must come before critical thinking can occur:
“Bloom’s Taxonomy maintains that the highest order of thinking occurs at the evaluating and creating levels which infer that the thinkers must have knowledge, facts, data, or information in their brains to combine into something new, or with which to judge relative importance or value. Therefore, effective knowledge acquisition has to come first.”
William R. Klemm shares similar arguments in his article:
“Moreover, many educators at all levels have disdain for memorization, stating that we should focus education on teaching students to think and solve problems, as if you can think and solve problems without knowing anything.”
Yes we need to teach students to be critical thinkers and problem solve, but before that can happen we need to go back to the basics and give them the foundation. The disagree team (Amy and Heidi) did a great job of defending their viewpoint and focused a lot on the research that supports the importance of memorization. Although they won my vote, and I stand by my opinion that memorization and basic skills are crucial, the agree team also made some great arguments.
Something that stuck with me from the agree team (Luke, Ashley, and Andrew) was their argument that if students think everything can be googled, they lose their motivation for working hard to figure something out rather than getting an instant answer. One of the problems Google has created, is the stop it puts to questioning. Dictionary.com defines Google as a verb:
You want to know something? Google it. Once you have your answer, you’re done. Google naturally suggests “answers” as stopping points. Google has become more than just a search engine, it has become a way of life. If we want to encourage students to think critically, ask questions, and problem solve, they need to know that they can go beyond searching Google.