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February 23, 2012

Which Facts Do We Need? Reflections on Justin Reich’s latests posts
School BusAt EdTechTeacher, we have been wrestling with four essential questions:
  • Why Change?
  • What Does Change Look Like?
  • How Do You Lead Change?
  • How Do You Assess Change?
Last week, EdTechTeacher Co-Director Justin Reich touched on some of these questions on EdTechResearcher. In his post on February 13th, Which Facts Do We Need?, Justin wrote:
"What kinds of knowledge do you have to have at your fingertips in order to create new knowledge?... This was a question that my 11.125 [MIT class] began the class wrestling with, as we read from John Bransford’s excellent (and free) How Students Learn. Bransford introduces three key learning principles– two of which have to do with facts. The first principle is that all learning builds on prior learning, so all teaching needs to engage prior knowledge. The second principle is that students need to learn facts nested within conceptual schema. You can’t teach concepts without facts, and you can’t teach facts without concepts..."
At EdTechTeacher, as we address the question of why change? this issue of the necessity for fact acquisition often comes into play. With advances in technology, straight memorization is no longer a highly valued skill since many base facts are "Google-able"; however, how much knowledge do students to need have already acquired in order to construct more complex constructs and apply the higher-order thinking skills that are rapidly becoming the currency of 21st Century Learning? "The point of that post [Which Facts Do We Need?was that students do need to memorize certain facts in the content areas if we want them to be able to do more cognitively difficult work." wrote Justin in his followup. Yet if standardized tests and 19th century text books only emphasize facts that are rarely used for the acquisition of higher learning, determining then the essential question shifts to What Does Change Look Like? In other words, what should a 21st Century Classroom resemble? You can read more of Justin's writings at EdTechResearcher.