195 Countries – Why you can’t just look them up

“Why?  If it can be ‘Googled’ it’s not a great question to begin with.  Unless I’m on Jeopardy why do I need this info? ”

In the age of Google, why bother learning random information like the names of countries and their capitals. I would rather know the symbols of the elements.

I’ve touched on this several times in the posts so far, and to be honest, E.D. Hirsch probably puts it better than I can, here.

Daniel Willingham interprets parts of this idea in an excellent, and succinct video here.

But the mind is so brutally enslaved to this myth that it warrants ever more effort to liberate our collective consciousness from it.  The links above are best placed to do this.

To reiterate some of my earlier points:

  • Sometimes you’re not in a position, or of an inclination to ‘look it up’
  • Your mind often tries to fill the gaps in knowledge, so you don’t even realise there’s anything to look up, and it often gets it wrong
  • The more you know, not the Internet, the easier it is to learn new things (the Matthew Effect)
  • If it’s not in your mind, your long-term memory, then it will not be a part of your intellect.  You will miss out on opportunities to spot patterns, make links and draw inferences, and you will never even know those opportunities slipped you by

About Kris Boulton

Teach First 2011 maths teacher, focussed on curriculum design.
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