Learning Facts And Figures By Rote, Is A Waste Of Time For The Present Generation

by Savitha C Muppala on Dec 4 2008 4:35 PM

It is quite unnecessary to force children these days to memorise facts and figures, as they are all available with a click of the mouse, according to Don Tapscott, a popular commentator.

Don Tapscott, author of the bestselling book Wikinomics and a champion of the "net generation", instead suggests that kids be encouraged to think creatively so that they could learn to interpret and apply the knowledge available online.

"Teachers are no longer the fountain of knowledge; the internet is," Times Online quoted him as saying.

"Kids should learn about history to understand the world and why things are the way they are. But they don't need to know all the dates. It is enough that they know about the Battle of Hastings, without having to memorise that it was in 1066. They can look that up and position it in history with a click on Google," he added.

Denying that his approach was anti-learning, Tapscott argued that the ability to learn new things was more important than ever "in a world where you have to process new information at lightning speed".

"Children are going to have to reinvent their knowledge base multiple times. So for them memorising facts and figures is a waste of time," he said.

According to him, the model of education currently prevailing in most classrooms was designed for the industrial age.

"This might have been good for the mass production economy, but it doesn't deliver for the challenges of the digital economy, or for the 'net gen' mind," he said.

Tapscott highlighted the fact that the brains of the present-day youth worked very differently from those of their parents.

He even insisted that handling multiple tasks like texting, surfing the Internet, and listening to MP3 players at the same time might help children develop critical thinking skills.

His views, however, seem unlikely to be welcomed by academicians because some feel that a core level of knowledge is essential.

"It's important that children learn facts. If you have no store of knowledge in your head to draw from, you cannot easily engage in discussions or make informed decisions," said Richard Cairns, Headmaster of Brighton College, one of Britain's top-performing independent schools.