Search or think?

According to the United States Department of Labor, 65 percent of today’s students will end up at jobs that haven’t been created yet. This means we have to rethink the best way to use time during a school day. Students must learn how to ask the right questions; more specifically, they must be able to clearly determine what skills are worth learning, honing, relearning, or dropping altogether. This is easier said than done. Currently, we overwhelmingly teach students skills opposed to critical thinking and creativity: direct objects, indirect objects, geography, ancient history–none of these things are bad to teach. However, when you have a finite amount of time (as we all do), and you understand that the learners will one day apply for jobs that are currently nonexistent, then you must prepare the students with helpful “habits of mind.”

Math will always be important because it strengthens problem solving ability. Constructing responses to writing prompts are also beneficial because students learn to defend what they believe and communicate in a linear way that’s easy for the reader to understand. What’s not as important is learning facts–especially facts that can quickly be found via Google.

In the end, that’s a good way to frame the question as to what teachers should spend their time teaching. Is the subject matter  “Google” knowledge or “thinking” knowledge. In other words, are we teaching students stuff that they can find in a couple seconds on Google’s search engine, or are we teaching students to think clearly and critically so that one day they can work at Google?