Have you ever heard the quote “Knowledge is power?” Since we spend 12 years of our lives in a school environment that drills learning to memorize facts as the most important thing in the world, it’s natural for us to view knowledge as power. But I believe it is the application of knowledge that is powerful.
Many students ask teachers “When will I use this in the real world?” Usually, teachers will just say “Trust me, you will use it.” However, a recent survey found that 80% of Americans never use Math beyond what they learned in 6th-grade, such as decimals, fractions, and percentages. Also, the 20% who ARE using higher-level math, such as algebra or calculus are blue-collar workers (construction, and mechanical trades).
Conrad Wolfram, one of the world’s foremost mathematicians, describes how standardized tests focus entirely on the student’s ability to do repetitive computations by hand quickly and error-free. He said, “These tests have nothing to do with creative problem-solving. They don’t assess what people do in real life with math, which is to solve hard problems by using the power of modern computers. No one finds integers or inverse metrics today outside of education in the tests they take in high school. They use a computer, a tablet or a phone.”
Did you know that today’s smartphone has 10,000 times the power of a multi-million dollar supercomputer from 1970? We also have Google at our fingertips 24/7 to answer all our questions.
The bigger question is, should our children be wasting 12 years memorizing facts? At Acton Academy, we don’t think so. Children should learn from the start how to apply what they are learning to real life. We do this through real-world projects called “Quests.”
One of our Quests is called the Sandwich Economics. The learners are tasked to figure out how much it costs to make a sandwich. We take a trip to the grocery store so they can find all the ingredients and purchase them. We come back to the studio and they re-do their math to see if they were close to the real answer. After that, they make the sandwiches and bring them to a local soup kitchen.
Do you think your child’s time is best spent memorizing facts for standardized tests, that they will most likely never use in the real world? Or do you want your child’s education to focus on real-world problem solving that requires creativity and imagination?
The choice is yours.