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Is knowing facts a thing of the past?

Wednesday, October 6th, 2010

Our friend Amy Fagan at Education Gadfly notes some striking similarities between our recently released teacher survey and Fordham’s look at the views of education profs, Cracks in the Ivory Tower?. Amy writes:

[According to the AEI report,] social studies teachers may be setting too low a bar for what they expect students to know about American history and government. Teaching facts is the lowest priority for social studies teachers when it comes to instruction in citizenship.

[…] Interestingly, Fordham’s report found (among other things) that while 83 percent of education professors believe it’s “absolutely essential” for teachers to teach 21st Century skills, just 36 percent say that about teaching math facts and 44 percent about teaching phonics in the younger grades.

Hmm…is knowing facts a thing of the past?

We’d also point to Fordham’s finding that education professors believe the proper role of a teacher is to be a “facilitator of learning” (84 percent), not a “conveyor of knowledge” (11 percent). To judge from our own survey, it seems America’s social studies teachers, at least, have taken this particular lesson to heart.