Friday, October 2, 2015


For this blog post, I want to try something a bit different. I'd like to point you in the direction of some interesting videos and articles we have come across in our discussions at Houston Academy.

Over the past three years, we have been engaged in a discussion about what education should mean in the information age. As a 1:1 MacBook school, our students have more information at their fingertips than there has ever been in human history. The “Knowledge Doubling Curve," created by Buckminster Fuller, tells us that up until 1900, human knowledge doubled about every hundred years. By 1945, knowledged was estimated to double every 25 years. Now, we believe that human knowledge doubles every 12 months. IBM asserts that it will soon double every 12 hours. Moreover, we can pull out a "smart phone" and access that information instantly, from anywhere in the world. We have "smart" TVs, and "smart" computers that can "think." That begs the question of "What is essential for our students to know?"

For example, we would agree that students need to know their vocabulary in their world language classes if they are going to be fluent in their chosen language. However, debate is raging in the educational community about the nature of essential knowledge and the role of memorization in our educational system. Do students need to learn times tables? What about spelling? Do they need to know that "in fourteen hundred and ninety two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue"? We still have a "classical" educational model that maintains that memorization is the key to learning, but at HA, we have come to  virtual consensus that it is more important for our students to be able to find information that to memorize information. Furthermore, once that information is acquired, the real challenge is to synthesize and analyze that information and separate good information from bad.

Actually, the argument against memorization is far from new. As early as 1956, educational psychologist Benjamin Bloom identified six cognitive domains, starting from the most simple to the most complex. Informed by brain research, "Bloom"s Taxonomy" was revised in the 1990s to place "creativity" at the highest level. "Remembering" (or memorizing) has remained at the lowest level.

I encourage you to click on the links I have provided. These videos and articles are thought-provoking, and I would love to get a discussion going about the value and role of memorization in our educational system.

Read this article!

And this one! 

Watch this video!

And watch this one!