Knowledge vs. Access to Knowledge

I ask you a question.

You are unsure of the answer, so you google it, tweet out if anyone has an answer, or use a plethora of resources that are at your fingertips. You find an answer and I call you resourceful. 

I ask the student the same question, and they use your same approach you just did.

Too often they are called a cheater.

There is something wrong with this narrative.

When you hire someone, you do not just hire their knowledge, you hire their access to knowledge.  No principal will ever know all of the answers to all of your questions, but some principals will know how to find, or more importantly, help you find, the answers to what you need.  Some will be adamant that if they don’t know, then it is either not a good idea or an answer probably doesn’t exist. Who would you rather work for?

Do not mistake what I am saying that I do not believe students should not have knowledge and that it is obsolete in our world today.  It is just that we need to understand that having knowledge is limiting compared to having access to knowledge. “Access” could mean it is in your mind, or at your fingertips. Unless your students are on Jeopardy, Googling something should not be a no-no.  I often get the argument, “Well you wouldn’t want a doctor googling stuff would you?” My doctor googles stuff all of the time. I would rather that they get it right with Google, than bet on something they learned in a class 10 years ago.

Yong Zhao said it best when he stated, “reading and writing should be the floor, not the ceiling.”  Yes we want our students to have basic skills, but we need to be able to go beyond.  The world is increasingly concerned with what you are able to do with what you know, not just what you know.

Have you ever met the teacher that knows all the content in the world in their subject area, but can’t teach?

Or the stock market expert, who doesn’t invest?

Or the sideline fan who knows everything about a sport, but can’t coach or referee?

Access to knowledge (brain and elsewhere) is extremely important.  Doing something with knowledge is crucial.

We just have to recognize that the real world is much more open to adults finding information and being resourceful, so we should be that way with our students.

Source: George Couros