Was Einstein looking into the future?

“Never memorize something that you can look up”.  I didn’t know those were Einstein’s words until yesterday.   Imagine how different school would have been if the hours upon hours of completing textbook pages “89-91, questions 1-4, 6 and 7, but just part B”, were instead spent on problems, case studies, or creative endeavours.  I forget SO much of the math I learned as a child and a teenager, yet my report cards tell me I did well.  Now if you need to solve a tricky math problem, do you Google  it?  And do you probably get the same answer as the person who still remembers that old formula?  Ask Siri.  She can probably answer it for you too.

So the debate is do we teach the how (manual calculation) and drill it until kids can easily fill in formulas on tests?  Or do we teach the why?  Why is knowing the reasons the formula is important – and where can you go to find that formula if you need it (thanks Siri and Google).

Mr. Aspinall, your TED talk has got me thinking.  I encourage watching his take on this debate.  And I also want you to imagine going back to those math classes yourself and pulling out an internet connected tool, throwing away that old textbook and solving math problems in groups. Sounds a lot like where classes are going today!