Great post by Annie-Murphy Paul on knowledge in a digital age, the tree Octopus problem

I don’t know if you already have a subscription to Annie-Murphy Pauls mailinglist, The Brilliant Report, but you should.

The latest is on knowledge in a digital age and the question if you still need it. In a recent interview with Steve Wheeler Sugata Mitra says clearly no, you need access to knowledge.

But Annie-Murphy Paul argues different:

“But that’s not how an increasingly powerful faction within education sees the matter. They are the champions of “new literacies”—or “21st century skills” or “digital literacy” or a number of other faddish-sounding concepts. In their view, skills trump knowledge, developing “literacies” is more important than learning mere content, and all facts are now Google-able and therefore unworthy of committing to memory.

There is a flaw in this popular account. Robert Pondiscio, executive director at the nonprofit organization CitizenshipFirst  (and a former fifth-grade teacher), calls it the “tree octopus problem”: even the most sophisticated digital literacy skills won’t help students and workers navigate the world if they don’t have a broad base of knowledge about how the world actually operates. “When we fill our classrooms with technology and emphasize these new ‘literacies,’ we feel like we’re reinventing schools to be more relevant,” says Pondiscio. “But if you focus on the delivery mechanism and not the content, you’re doing kids a disservice.”

And if you want to know what the Tree Octopus Problem is, well, do read the whole article!

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