These days, you can look up nearly anything.  You can learn by watching tutorials on You Tube.  You can take a class at Coursera.  You can walk the streets of most famous cities with Google Street View.

And you can do it all in your hand, anywhere, with a smart phone or tablet.

That’s now.

The future will only get better.  We all know this.

Look up anything on your phone–no memorization needed

So what does that make education?  Assuming that education should prepare us for the future, why are we still memorizing facts and learning things that can easily be looked up?

Good question, and there don’t seem to be many good answers.

Do we really need to know the data of the Battle of Hastings?  It’s important, certainly, but with a few taps, your device will get the information for you.

You want to play the guitar.  Do you really need to take lessons?  Of course not.  Just find a tutorial online.

And so it goes.

If we can find any information, anywhere, anytime, students do not need to know facts.  They need to know what to do with them.

They need to learn analytical and critical thinking: how to analyze the facts, use the facts, and most of all, how to think and think logically.

And they need to learn other skills: Skills that are useful.  Skills that they can actually put to good use in life.  However, how can we go about doing that?

Project Based Learning is one way, but I’ve already talked about that earlier.

Everyone should know what this battle was, but why?
Everyone should know what this battle was, but why?

Let’s take a look at history, since we were looking at the Battle of Hastings.  How can we make history class more

useful?  Memorizing dates and people is not going to help our students.

However, we can all agree that students should understand what the Battle of Hastings was, who fought it, why, and what the results were.

In such a case, a research project would be a good idea.  A presentation on “What the world would be like if the Battle of Hastings did not happen?”  Or, a paper looking at the two different societies that clashed in this battle?

A project, or activity that is output-based, and where the students need to use facts is good.

My point here is that we need to go beyond what we are doing.  Memorization is no longer a useful skill.  (It probably never really was, mind you.)  Rethinking what we should be teaching, students should be learning, is essential to the students’ success.  K6KEUSGXC5B7

It determines the students’ future, their success and happiness, and our country’s future.