The debate topic “Schools should not focus on teaching things that can be easily googled” triggered me to think about the following question. By clicking a mouse or tapping a smartphone, endless exposure to an abundance of online information has reshaped how we socialize, educate ourselves about the world around us. If all the information can be summoned instantly by googling, what is the point of studying them at school and at university for years?
Everything can be googled, which does not mean that we can systematically master a subject or a knowledge system. With information overload, the quality of information we are searching varies, much of them are more fragmented. Transforming this fragmented information into a well-organized knowledge framework requires critical thinking skills, which most students are unable to acquire by simply searching online. In other words, every piece of knowledge has its own structure, and in many cases, it intricately entwines others. Additionally, It is thought that excessive reliance on Googling will have an adverse impact on students’ creativity. Thanks to the artificial intelligence algorithms, search engines like Google is gathering your preference to provide you homogenized information. Once algorithms start guiding decisions, students will lose their independent thinking ability. However, how to deconstruct them and form an individual’s cognition towards the world is what teachers are imparting to us. According to Ian Gilbert in “Why Do I Need A Teacher When I’ve Got Google? ”, a teachers job in today’s technological world is to “help young people know where to find the knowledge, to know what to do with it when they get it, to know ‘good’ knowledge from ‘bad’ knowledge, to know how to use it, to apply it, to synthesize it, to be creative with it, to add to it even, to know which bits to use and when and how to use them and to know how to remember key parts of it” (p.24). These skills facilitate students to use existing knowledge to create new content, by engaging in problem-solving and critical exploration and developing a new learning environment.
As Tarina indicated “Google is a tool, not a teacher.” Google provides students with a huge abundance of information, but the role of teachers is beyond the information providers. The purpose of education is not to turn students into Wikipedia but helps students build and develop a problem-solving learning environment to inquire, question and criticize existing knowledge, eventually facilitate them to become the creators of knowledge, an individual with independent thinking.