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I often hear people lamenting over what kids today are NOT learning:

Oh, they don’t teach them to write cursive anymore! The sky is falling. To myself IIMG_2800 say, “I can’t even write a legible grocery list, yet that doesn’t stop me from reading, writing, or learning, so what’s the big deal?

Oh, without their calculators people today can’t add a DSC_0693simple sum. The sky is falling. To myself I say, “Who is ever without a calculator in hand? Any 2nd grader can add quicker than I can with or without technology in my hands, so what’s the big deal?”

Chief Innovation Officer Pavan Arora, educated at the London School of Economics and Political Science, asserts that “knowledge is obsolete.” How could that be? In a nutshell, he makes his case this way:

  • Two-thirds of today’s first graders will work at jobs for which today we have no words to even imagine.
  •  “There’s an expiration date on your carton of knowledge.” In 1900, knowledge doubled every 100 years; today knowledge doubles every one to two years, vastly altering much of what came before.
  • Access to human knowledge is possible anytime, anywhere, and instantaneously.

The sheer volume of information that makes the world tick is simply impossible to stay current with. The power of humanity lies not with how much information we can store in our brains but in how creative we are with the information at hand. Information is a commodity. Creativity is power.

We no longer need to know how to use a slide rule. IMG_2797We don’t need to know what value is represented by pi. We need to know what pi can do for us, how to use it.

Think of how freeing it would be to toss out the esoteric facts and figures that clog our brains, thereby releasing ourselves, our children, and our educational system to think creatively.

Education researcher, Sugata Mitra, made an astounding discovery when he dropped an internet-connected computer through a hole in the wall of a New Delhi slum. Without guidance or input from adult supervisors or teachers, the kids that found this computer in the slum not only figured out how to use it, but learned English in order to use it. The experiment was repeated in the Himalayas to similar results. Mitra is convinced that curiosity drives self-instruction and peer-shared knowledge. Mitra postulates that we are wasting resources on schools and the education industry. He envisions a School in the Cloud, “where children can explore and learn from each other.” Again, this supports creativity and negates knowledge for the sake of knowledge.

Is knowledge obsolete? It’s both a scary and a liberating idea. The Atlas holding up this theory is universal access. Today, Cloud learning and knowledge sharing demand internet connectivity. But even that may, in the not so distant future, be irrelevant.