Since almost everyone has access to technology and the internet, I have always wondered if it is really necessary to teach students topics that can easily be googled. The debate topic this week was:
Schools should not be teaching anything that can be Googled: Agree or Disagree?
When I first looked at the debate topic, I was sure that I would be on the disagree side because, well why am I becoming a teacher if I think schools should not teach anything that can be Google? But, as the debate went on and McKayla and Brooklyn shared their ideas, I started to change my opinion.
In one of articles McKayla presented, it states, “by encouraging children to invent and use their own procedures, teachers allow them to use a method that makes them focus not simply on practicing computation but also on developing strategies”. This is something that I have definitely seen first hand in one of my grade 9 mathematics classrooms. I taught students how to calculate the surface area of a composite object a few different ways, but I told them there are other ways to do it as well. I was expecting students to stick to the few ways I taught them; however, one student handed in an assignment that was done a completely different way and I was in awe. This student understood how to calculate composite objects so much better doing it the way they created, instead of the way I presented it.
In one of the articles Brooklyn presented, it states, “I agree that the ultimate goal should be to teach people how to think, solve problems, and create. Central to these capabilities, however, is the ability to remember things”. This is also something that I find extremely important. Problem solving skills is definitely one of the most important skills a student can acquire; however, I believe that they still need to have memorization skills. A huge debate in the math community is whether or not students should be memorizing basic math facts. Since students constantly have access to calculators on their cellphones, should we be teaching them how to multiply and divide numbers the pen and paper way? During my internship, I asked the question, “should I teach students how to multiply and divide decimal numbers the pen and paper way or should I just let them use a calculator?”. The answer I was given was, “you sound decide that one”. This was a tough decision, but I decided to teach students this concept using two methods. Method 1 was the long pen and paper way, and Method 2 was using a calculator. I gave them the option of choosing whichever method they preferred; however, if they got the question wrong on a test and they used Method 2, there is no chance for partial marks, but if they used Method 1 they could possibly get partial marks. I think giving students the option of whether they want to memorize how to do it the long way, or to take the short cut is the best option is today’s education.
The TED Talk that McKayla shared with us was the source that made me switch my mind. Seeing all the children that became extremely knowledgeable in the subject area that was presented at the time was so fascinating, and knowing that they taught themselves without a teacher was incredible. Sugata Mitra discussed a “school in the cloud” idea where students would use technology to teach themselves. I believe this idea could definitely work because based on experience, sometimes I learn more by teaching myself through the internet, than from listening to an actual teacher who is trained in that subject.
I think we should continue to teach students in the classroom; however, students should be given choice as to whether or not they want to solve problems the long way or the short cut way, and we should be encouraging students to use outside sources aside from the teacher if they want to learn more on the subject area. During internship I promoted the Khan Academy website so many times to my students and several students used it just for extra assistance if they needed help and I wasn’t available.
Based on all I have stated above, I have decided that I stand in the middle on this debate topic.