Should Educators Teach Skills That Can Be Easily Googled?

Google

“Google” by warrantedarrest is licensed under CC BY 2.0

An interesting topic of discussion came up at our last EC&I 830 class. We discussed whether or not teachers should teach things that can be easily googled. During this discussion, fellow classmates Daina and Jocelyn pointed out that on average there are nearly 5.6 billion searches being made on google each day! To me this is an astonishing, although not surprisingly high number, considering how many google searches I find even myself making in one day. This makes me wonder; what skills or knowledge can not be googled and needs to be taught to students in the classroom? From the information that Lisa, Curtis, Daina and Jocelyn presented I found there to be three invaluable sets of skills that can not be gained through a google search. These include:

-critical thinking skills

-basic knowledge skills

-soft skills

When examining the impact google has on critical thinking Lisa and Curtis acknowledged that google does not support the critical thinking skills needed to understand the process of something and rather simply allows students to search up an answer and regurgitate it. For example, students can look up the answer to a math question, but by doing this, they do not necessarily understand the process of how to solve the problem. They won’t be able to apply this knowledge to a similar situation in the future. The article “How Has Google Affected the Way Students Learn” points out that when people continuously rely on google, they lose their ability to contemplate and concentrate. It discusses the need for teachers to develop questions that are “google proof”. By doing this, students are challenged to not only use their critical thinking skills, but also exercise their ability to focus and deliberate.

Another set of skills that can’t simply be googled are basic knowledge skills. In his article John Merrow, defines reading and writing, numeracy, creativity as well as health and nutrition as the four basic knowledge skills schools need to focus on. He stresses that schools should be spending less time on preparing students to take tests and more time exploring knowledge and applying it to real world situations. We need to be giving students the opportunity to express their creativity through the arts and other means. I could not agree more! As a grade 4 teacher I have noticed that when students do not have basic reading, writing and numeracy skills they struggle to complete research projects in higher grades because they have difficulty reading the information google provides. I find that they struggle with being creative and they want strict guidelines with questions they can directly answer. I also find they struggle with writing and even rephrasing the answers they find on the internet. With that being said, I do feel that even though google can help students find answers to their questions, it does not support students ability in understanding and applying these skills to situations they may be faced with in the real world.

I think that one of the most important set of skills that simply can not be googled in any shape of form are social and emotional skills. These “soft” skills need to be explicitly taught and learned through face to face human interaction. This past year, I taught a group of students who struggled to get along socially and understand how to deal with their issues emotionally. They had difficulty understanding how their own actions impacted the actions of the people around them. They did not understand that wherever they went, they were a part of a “social space”. As a result, our school’s learning facilitator and myself implemented a program called “Social Thinking and Me”. This program was originally developed by speech pathologists Michelle Garcia and Linda Murphy. As described in Garcia’s video students need core social thinking concepts such as “what’s going on around me?” and “what’s expected” in order to be able to navigate through the various social situations they will find themselves in. I found this program to be highly effective in helping students not only control their own actions, but respond appropriately to the actions of their peers.

I personally feel that as educators we need to spend more time teaching students explicitly social and emotional skills. I think more students need help developing these skills because they are spending more time on devices and computers. I think as adults, we too are spending more time on technology and this is resulting in less time talking face to face. In her book Kids These Days Jody Carrington discusses the impact face to face connection has on a child’s ability to appropriately cope socially and emotionally in society. In this audio clip from her book, Jody demonstrates how showing genuine interest in what another person cares about is one of the five keys to reconnecting with the people around us. In conclusion, I feel that while their is a great deal of knowledge that is easily accessible through google, critical thinking skills, basic knowledge skills and soft skills can’t be developed through a google search and it is our job as educators to connect with our students and help them develop these skills.

Always remember “The influence of a good teacher can never be erased” (author unknown).

4 thoughts on “Should Educators Teach Skills That Can Be Easily Googled?”

  1. In my opinion, “soft skills” are the most important skills to develop. Learning how to form positive relationships, how to communicate healthily with others around us, how to solve conflicts, being polite and respectful will definitely open more doors in the life of students. This will help grow and learn with others not against others. Social and emotional skills are the base of intellectual skills. Kids will learn if they feel safe and welcomed. We need to create that space for them in school and we can only do this if everyone participates, which means we have to spend time explicitly teaching better ways to respond to others when we aren’t in agreement with how they act or what they say. Another thought-provoking post, thank you Alyssa.

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    1. Thank you, emotional and social learning is something I feel as being vital in the classroom for helping students develop skills to help them engage with others outside of the classroom.

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  2. Alyssa, thank you for this post! As a fellow primary teacher, I can relate to so many of the ideas and thoughts you shared. I particularly like your idea of teaching emotional skills. I feel like kids these days come to school with so much trauma, or anxiety, that they often struggle to function due to the big emotions they are feeling. No Google search can teach them how to cope, or form strategies to handle these. It is through relationships, often built with teachers (and peers) that these essential skills develop. While I agree with you 100% that it is also crucial to teach the basic skills, and develop deeper thinking and connections with those skills, a child cannot learn if their head is full of emotions they are not able to handle. The quote at the end of your post says it all!

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