The Keepers of Knowledge

in hive-122108 •  7 months ago 

Several years ago, I attended an education conference. This wasn't the first conference I have ever been to nor will it probably be the last.

What made this one different was a concept the keynote speaker talked about that has always stuck with me.

Sadly, it has been so long ago that I don't remember the keynote speakers name. I am sure if I dug really hard online, I would probably be able to find out who it was, but that would be time consuming.

Here is the basic premise of what the speaker was talking about:

In the past, all of the information in the world was kept in books and locations that were not always easy to access. Likewise, because teachers had gone to college and disseminated that information to the students, they were seen as the keepers of knowledge.

If you wanted to know something, or learn about something, you would go to the teacher and they would either tell you or direct you to where you could find the answer.

Today, we all know that information is everywhere, if you want to know the answer to something, you simply pull out your phone and look it up. This should have led to a fundamental shift in the way that teachers do their jobs. Unfortunately for the most part it hasn't.


Many teachers these days still stand at the front of a classroom and deliver the knowledge to students. The blame can't solely be placed on the teachers though. The entire construct of education is still built on that premise of the teachers being the keepers of knowledge.

This is clearly evident in the virtual monopoly text book makers have on the market, as well as the standardized testing that is mandated by state and federal governments and tied to teacher evaluations.

The speakers solution was this:

Accept the fact that the teachers are no longer the keepers of knowledge. The knowledge is all over, readily available to anyone that has an Internet connected device or access to one. Instead, teachers should become "facilitators of knowledge".

I think we can all agree that while there is a ton of useful stuff out on the Internet, there is also a ton of garbage. Instead of teaching the students facts, teachers should be teaching them how to find the facts, how to discern the good information from the bad, how to identify a legitimate source.

If you have something break at home and you need to figure out how to fix it, what do you do? Chances are, you probably go to Google or YouTube and you watch a video to learn how to do it. That is what I did when I recently needed to fix my clothes dryer.

Why then do we expect students to memorize (let's be honest) irrelevant facts and formulas that they can easily find should the need arise. Do I remember the Pythagorean Therom? Maybe a little. Do I remember what applications you can use it for? No, but I can look it up.


Don't get me wrong, there are some skills and pieces of knowledge that I think all students need to learn and memorize. Reading, basic math, currency calculations, things like that are absolute must-haves for me. Do I think that students should be forced to have closed book tests and memorize who led the troops in the battle of whatever during a specific war? No, I don't.

Personally, I think all tests should be open book or open Internet. If the student uses a false or inaccurate answer, points should be deducted accordingly. As I said, it's now the teachers responsibility to help them know what is probably legitimate and what is the musing of some half-wit conspiracy theory nut job. Things like time management and study skills are what we need to be getting into the hands of students.

These antiquated methods and monotony are not the way the world works anymore. I feel that is part of the reason many students are falling through the cracks. Let me be clear, it isn't the teachers fault. it is the fault of a system that is dictated by politicians who are more concerned about the text book lobby, kickbacks from an assessment vendor, or what our scores are compared to some other country.

What do you think? Have you heard this ideology before? Do you think it hold some merit? Are you, or do you know an educator that is practicing something like this? Let me know in the comments!


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I guess I forgot 99% of what I learned in school and Romania has heavy classes. Too much info I would say. In an ideal educational system I would even ditch grades. Why make it harder than it is and create competition. Let the kids get eager to read and learn stuff. I also believe that 99% of the jobs out there don't require school, but a simple schooling. I graduated from some sort of IT-math class, but I don't remember anything from C++ classes or logarithms and so on. I now how to count, to use a PC, to read and use the internet,and that's pretty much what I need. The educational system needs to be rebuilt from scratch.

Good points! I had a lot of C++ classes in college, but I probably couldn't code anything if you asked me to now!

You totally make sense with this post @bozz. Never really thought of it in this context. But there needs to be a paradigm shift like you say. i.e. teachers should be the "Facilitators" of the information.

I may disagree to a certain extent about learning and memorizing certain concepts and facts. I think that there is a place for it in that it may not necessarily be about learning the "fact" itself but rather to get the brain to engage and further grow and develop via " rudimentary practice".

In other wards less about knowing the 'Troops' and more about training the mind and brain to become stronger and more capable in a general sense through memorization.

Does that make sense ??

For sure! Absolutely!

I really appreciate your opinion. I agree that the current era of modernization has provided many conveniences to humans, because all knowledge is available on the internet. Thank you @bozz

Thank you!

Hi, @bozz!

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I agree with you when you say that the Internet is full of garbage. It becomes more and more difficult to spot reliable sources. Anybody can publish anything... look how easy is to publish a book on kindle. Really. As far as education... hmm... the subject can turn into a huge debate. Students must learn various subjects that don’t seem important, but train their brains. I studied useless math, calculus and statistics, but that improved my memory and my overall learning skills.

Yes, everything can be researched on Internet. Many American college tests are open book or open internet. You can look up the answers. However... you still need to know what you are looking for. You still need to read the textbook or attend a class. So teachers are still keepers of knowledge in my opinion. They still have to teach facts, because the facts that teachers teach are real facts, not bogus internet garbage. Teachers are reliable sources. Just my 2 cents. 😊

I think his idea makes a lot of sense, especially when it comes to complicated formulas or things one doesnt need to do common tasks and the style of teaching does need to change.
What worries me a bit, well worriesis the wrong word perhaps frustrates me a bit is what to me seems as simple math and seeing the younger generation struggle with it, a case in point was recently when I was at a supermarket and there was some glitch in the system, it wqas working to scan all the items and produce a total, but the portion that was not working was card payments which stopped many shopper sin ther tracks as they dont carry cash, but that is an aside, the cashiers really struggled withthe second issue the machine did not tell them how much change they had to give and they were struggling so hard ot do what to me is simple math

Maybe I am just showing my age LOL

Like i said, basic math and currency calculations are a must for me.

Ohh yes for me as well, but seemingly not in some schools these days

Internet needs some clearance

You pose an interesting point, and one the schools in my area are aware of. They are starting to shift their teaching strategies, because they know the information super highway will work against them if left ignored. My family is full of teachers and they have similar conversations when we get together. Personally, and I am not a teacher, is that opening yourself up to this method of teaching, will in turn open up a plethora of additional teaching tools. Kids will be motivated to 'Learn' and will engage in conversation and debate, rather than retreating into their own closed off worlds. Teach the children utilizing what they use daily and respond to without hesitation. Of course there are always going to be exceptions. An aware and dedicated educator can find the right way to tap every child's potential.

Good thought provoking post @bozz :-)

I agree, it will take a fundamental ahift in the way teachers think and do things. Those who choose to adapt can thrive those that dont will probably struggle.

I have to agree that this makes sense to a point, but, teachers still are the keeper learning as opposed to knowledge.

Why do you think older people cannot (some anyway) properly work their phones or the internet or how to google something? Are we putting the wrong focus on what we are teaching them? I think so. I can remember sweating over grades, even though I was a good student, but, having to learn repetitive information, only to not need it ever again... but the basic skills as you say, need to be taught and I am all for think tank kind of classes for later in life.

I agree with JJ @tattoodjay as far as counting back change, especially if the enter the wrong amount. 90% of them struggle with it. So, althought they can get their way around the internet, if the grid went down, would they be able to cope.

Yeah, no.

Great post! Have a great day!


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