Disclaimer: This post was created in collaboration with Daina to summarize the information we collected to defend our position on the debate statement:
Schools should NOT focus on teaching things that are easily googled.
We choose to disagree with this statement because we feel that schools SHOULD still teach things even though you can easily Google them. As teachers, we need to teach students the curriculum concepts that you can Google because we have the ability to teach them these same concepts beyond what Google is able to provide. Much of what they can find on Google, although quick and easy, is one dimensional. There is no connection between you and what you search online. It is a one way interaction. Teachers are able to teach the same concepts beyond what Google can because we can elaborate, help students make connections that are relevant to them personally, and can go beyond the basic information that google provides. We can teach students how to think critically with this information, be the knowledge keeper or expert for those who don’t have access to this information, and provide them with the basics that will help build their foundation for future learning. Therefore, Google isn’t the answer! It is simply a one dimensional tool that holds a small aspect of value with regards to educating our world.
When students simply look up facts using Google to learn their curriculum, they are lacking the essential skill of critical thinking. They want the quick answer and move on, which doesn’t expose them to the learning process. Critical thinking is defined as the “art of filtering through information to reach an unbiased, logical decision that guides better thought and action.” This is where teachers fit into the picture. We can provide students skills to use the basic information they learn from us, or Google, in order to go to the next step. This includes knowing what to do with that information to make sense of it, make it purposeful, and apply it. This is all done by using analytical thinking, communication, creativity, open-mindedness, and problem-solving. Although information can be found on Google, it doesn’t provide you these critical thinking skills. Therefore, reading information online doesn’t mean that you learn and understand it. We need to teach kids more than just how to Google something.
Everyday in our schools we are faced with a digital divide. Not all families have access to internet in their communities, the internet they may have might not be able to support a high enough broadband speed to download the content and some families may not be able to afford the price of internet. This is evident right now in my classroom as parents from an EAL background or those that do not have computers at home are struggling to access google classroom or zoom because they are not familiar with these programs and their children need the help to gain access. Therefore, we cannot rely on our students googling their curriculum, we need a teacher to be able to teach so that the subject matter is relevant to the audience in the class. Everyone learns at a different rate, no matter their age. Some students come into their first years of education with different technical skills. Some students can navigate a computer or an ipad while others don’t even know how to hold a book. Students that have internet access and access to technology have consistent digital access to hardware, software, wifi use and mobile data and therefore have the foundational requirements for being able to build and maintain digital literacy. This is why teachers in all schools should teach things even though you can easily google them.
Back to Basics
The basics of education are reading, writing, creativity and nutrition and health. By making sure our students are provided with these basic skills, we are ensuring they will be successful. Memorization has an important place because it exercises the brain by training the mind to pay attention and focus intensely. It also activates a higher level of thinking. We need to learn information through experience and have opportunities to apply the information in different situations. We have to learn from our mistakes, we can’t always be right. There is more to learning than just searching for the right answer online. We read to gain information and we write to convey it. Reading all our information online is not suitable for all students. Some are not able to read at the level at which information is presented. Also, some learners are auditory learners and they gain more of an understanding through auditory means than through reading means. Teachers will often personalize explanations of learning content to suit the needs of the students in their classroom. Math is a perfect example as there are so many strategies that we are teaching because our brains are not all wired the same. We still need to teach the basics of math because we need to be able to use these skills to quickly solve larger algorithms. Spelling practice also allows us to be more efficient when we are writing. Jacquie made a comment last night about how beginning readers need to memorize sight words to help them with their early stages of reading. These sight words are words that we cannot use our decoding skills to sound out. As teachers, we need to continue to teach the basic skills even though google can help us find the answer.
Although Google is a prominent entity in our society, we can’t pretend that it provides us with all the information and skills needed to educate our youth. We also can’t ignore that it is a useful tool, when used properly, that can provide students with up to date information for which they can formulate opinions based on facts and ideas presented to them. It is a powerful tool but needs to be used in balance with other holistic/comprehensive approaches that fit the needs of all of our students and their learning needs. Perhaps the question is not whether schools should or shouldn’t teach things that are easily Googled, but rather schools should NOT rely on traditional forms of teaching and assessment. We should re-evaluate our instructional approaches, redefine our assessment techniques, and teach students hard and soft skills in conjunction with each other in order for students to benefit going forward into the world.