The Times (of London) has taken some quotes by Donald Tapscott and crafted of them an article. Written by Education Editor Alexandra Frean, the article leads with: Memorising facts and figures is a waste of time for most schoolchildren because such information is readily available a mere mouse click away, a leading commentator has said. Strangely, The Daily Telegraph has an almost identical article by Murray Wardrop; his version leads with: "Schoolchildren should no longer be forced to memorise facts and figures because such information is readily available on the internet, a leading commentator claims." Frean at the Times writes: At Wellington College in Berkshire, for example, teenagers are not taught from the front of the class, but instead sit around a large oval table for seminar-style discussions.
An equally inspired Wardrop chimes in: At Wellington College in Berkshire teenagers are not taught from the front of the class, but instead sit around a large oval table for seminar-style discussions. These seem to be two instances of rote writing about rote learning. (Wikipedia has a more interesting article about rote learning) But the debate about whether one needs knowledge in one's head when it's readily available on the internet, and increasingly on handhelds, and perhaps on implants a few years down the road, raises some interesting questions. One that I often return to - in all kinds of contexts - is Wendell Berry's "What are people for?" I don't know what Berry's answer is, but I think it's a good question that adds useful perspective in many situations. In this case one might ask it about knowledge - what's it for? Does it have to be for something?