GPS, Fareed Zakaria’s show on CNN, is at the tail end of the Sunday morning shows and it’s one of the best. Yesterday Eric Schmidt from Google was a guest and made some fascinating predictions about when “it’ll be possible to literally know everything, to measure everything.” But it was this short exchange on education that caught my attention:
ZAKARIA: And we are back with Eric Schmidt, the CEO of Google.
You know, I wonder about how we educate kids. I watch, you know, my kids go to school. And one of the things they have to do with great — what takes a lot of time is to learn to spell properly. Is it worth teaching people how to spell properly in a world in which every — there’s spell checks everywhere?
SCHMIDT: You can imagine education changing a lot. After all, when I was growing up, they forced me to memorize everything. But now, why do I need to remember that? I just need to learn how to search for it.
So, whether it’s Google or your other choices for getting information, teaching will be learning about how to ask the right question, and then sorting through the choices and answer.
Most people now believe that the right way to think about education is, rather than a fixed textbook, rather here’s a subject, here’s a subject, here’s a subject. You guys go figure it out. All the information is out there now.
What you really need to do is to teach people to be curious.
When people say things to me now, I say, well, that might be true. And then I go to Google, and I check. And I become a little bit of an expert on that one thing. And then, if they’re really off, I might even say, you might check, because I don’t want you saying that wrong thing to other people. It really changes your life when you have access so instantaneously to everything.
To the extent that Eric is right–that we should be intentional about cultivating curiosity–how would we go about doing that? I think we would:
- focus more on questions than answers
- encourage students to become an expert in something a couple times each year
- emphasize demonstrations of learning at least as much as test scores
- take more field trips
I’m sure you can add several more to this list. In short, schools would look and work differently if we really valued curiosity.