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When is knowing not really knowing?

August 31, 2009

A recent article in Educational Leadership by Peter Cookson caught my eye.  He wrote, “Google has put the world at our fingertips, but speed ubiquity are not the same as knowing something.”

He fears that if we do not approach the contemporary knowledge explosion with Socratic-like inquiry, “the great knowledge and communication tsunami of the 21st century may drown us in a sea of trivia instead of lifting us up on a rising tide of possibility and promise.”

The point is well made. For those of us in education, the struggle now is to develop and enhance learning opportunities when students “have all the answers” at their fingertips.  Traditional tests and assessments are becoming less valid and the need to inspire a desire for lifelong learning should be our goal.

One method, we are exploring in Saline, is project-based learning opportunities that allow students to collaborate and work on authentic problems.  Currently, like most districts, we are more effective at teaching long division than self-direction, collaboration, creativity, and innovation.  However, I am excited about how quickly we are transitioning from traditional whole-class instruction to student-centered methods.

I am very excited about the 2009-2010 school year.  The staff has enthusiastically embraced the technology integration efforts, and continues to inspire me to keep up with their desire to learn.  Like our students, the future is very bright here in Saline.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. September 1, 2009 10:34 am


    I concur on the move away from the traditional structured classroom to a more student centered model. Noise is a good indicator that collaborative learning is taking place. Students by nature are inquisitive, however the traditional classroom over time lessens this innate ability. Let’s continue ti innovate.

  2. Tammie Wotton permalink
    September 8, 2009 9:16 pm

    I could not agree more and am so excited to know that you are looking at this. Teaching life skills such as those learned through collaboration and exploration are so important and do not detract but enhance the “traditional” style. I feel lucky that my daughter is entering Saline Area Schools at this time and I hope that she does, indeed, graduate with a love of learning which will continue throughout her life.

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