Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Knowledge is Obsolete

When I was about 15 years old I was the proud frontman and guitarist in a small-town rock band. In addition to these duties, I also took it upon myself to wear the hat of webmaster. This was in 1997 - before the days of Myspace and Facebook. Instead, I turned to free web hosting sites like the now useless Geocities and Angelfire. WYSIWYG editors were still fairly uncommon at the time so I printed off some tutorials and started hard coding my site. This is how I learned HTML.

More than a decade later, and I’m still up to my old tricks. I recently started another band, and knowing the importance of a web presence, decided to create a website for the project. After looking through some links saved to my Delicious account, I realized something very important. All my coding skills from 1997 mean almost nothing in 2010.

Knowledge is obsolete.

Instead of HTML body tags, it’s CSS now. Instead of fancy Flash menus, it’s all about jQuery. And what the hell is AJAX?!

Fortunately for me, I know where to go for help, and how to practice and master new skills on my own. At some point in my formal education, I learned how to learn.

This is what teachers need to impress on students. Knowledge becomes worthless surprisingly fast, but the ability to acquire new knowledge is essential.

Don’t teach knowledge. Teach learning.
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3 Responses:

Michael C. Johnson said...

Not that learning to learn can take place in the absence of some kind of content knowledge, but learning to learn, solve problems, be creative, etc. are certainly more critical. We need to raise our sites beyond passing standardized tests, etc.

Mr. Tom Krawczewicz said...

I would have to think that you could understand some part of those new languages (at least the process or sense of programming) from your earlier experience. Without that, you would have to learn the languages and how to program all over again. In this sense, the knowledge was not completely obsolete. When you learn to learn, you are doing so with some type of content, even if it will be obsolete in a few years. It was important to you at the time.

Your post and a previous discussion on #edchat prompted me to write my own blog post ( ). It has been a long while so thanks for the inspiration!

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