You have probably heard the saying “Give a man a fish and you will feed him for the day, but teach him to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime”. There is more information and knowledge out in the world than is impossible for the human mind to learn. As teachers our job is to teach. Many people wonder how we know what to teach students at the different grade levels. As teachers we have curriculum content outlined in categories such as Math, Science, English, Social Studies, and Art. The curriculum is designed by a group of professionals and authorized by our provincial governments as to what is appropriate for grade level. Often our students ask us, “Why do we have to learn that? Why can’t we learn about this instead?” Students want to learn about what interests them.
Micheal Wesch makes a point in his lecture, “Digital Writing on the Walls” that we need to take our students from being knowledgeable to knowledge able. As adults we have learned the skills needed to obtain, read, decipher, and critique the information that we come across. Children do not have that ability naturally, it is something that needs to be taught. As teachers it is our job to teach these skills to our students while making it as relevant as possible by giving them problems that speak to the world they live in. Where there are problems, questions need to be asked to solve them. One of them being how to find the information needed to begin developing theories and conclusions. Children are not always aware of the sources of information available to them and where they are able to get it.
With all the information out there and the ease of access that we have to it why do we even have school? You can teach yourself whatever you want these days. If I were to ask people what it means to be literate, most would say that you have to be able to read and write. Fewer people would include the ability to do basic mental math and use a calculator. Very few people would say the ability to use a computer. It needs to be clear that before you can teach yourself anything you have to be fully literate. The purpose of school then should become a place of teaching literacy skills using grade appropriate material and building knowledge and skill foundations.
The technology that we have available to us opens up the world of learning outside the four walls of the classroom. If we teach a child computer skills, how to type, use a search engine, use online programs, download, upload, and build networks our children are on their way to feeding their hunger for knowledge. One critical element in all of this is that we need to make sure that our students have developed the skill set of what to do with the information once they have it. There is more to learning than reading, remembering, and regurgitating. To really learn concepts you need to look at it from different angles and formulate your own opinions.
As teachers if we give our students information they may retain some of it, but teach them the skills to access the information portals and they have the world.