Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Education Must Be about More Than Acquiring Information

Magazine article Phi Kappa Phi Forum

Education Must Be about More Than Acquiring Information

Article excerpt

Back in 1930, Eleanor Roosevelt opened an essay in the Pictorial Review entitled "Good Citizenship: The Purpose of Education" with the following provocative sentiment: "What is the purpose of education? This question agitates scholars, teachers, statesmen, every group, in fact, of thoughtful men and women. The conventional answer is the acquisition of knowledge, the reading of books, and the learning of facts."' Obviously, given her title, she went on to make the case that education is about more than simply obtaining information.

More recently, in 1998, E.O. Wilson addressed the fact that we are awash in information: "We are drowning in information, while starving for wisdom. The world henceforth will be run by synthesizers, people able to put together the right information at the right time, think critically about it, and make important choices wisely."2 It is well worth pointing out that the situation has gotten orders of magnitude more complicated since Wilson wrote those words nineteen years ago.

Consider just a couple of statistics. Google's first year was 1998, the year Wilson raised his alarm. That year, there were approximately 3.6 million Google searches, or about 9,800 searches per day. By 2014, the annual number of searches exploded by approximately 600,000 times to over 2 trillion with the daily search total reaching over 5.7 million.3

How large is the mountain of data being searched? In 1998, Google indexed "only" 26 million pages. By 2014, this number grew to approximately 30 billion pages.4

In short, as virtually everyone knows, a couple of minutes and a good Internet connection will yield any fact imaginable. …

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