Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Did he Google it?

One of my favourite cartoon strips is Get Fuzzy. A recent comic amused me but also got me thinking. A character asks how somebody knew something and suggested he must have Googled it. The reply comes back:
"No, no. He already knew it. He Noodled it."
Not Googled but Noodled. Brilliant!

This got me thinking... It has been said that "know where" is more important than "know how" - i.e. it's more important that we should know where to go to find out stuff or to get something done than it is to just know stuff. There is some truth in this I think. We live in a complex world and we can't know everything we need to know for the rest of our lives. It's about learning to learn. We should know how to find out... and Google seems to be where many people go to find out. (I touched upon this in "Education: product or process?" some time ago.)

However, I think it's important to be able to Noodle stuff too. I'm sure I've said before that I used to be able to recite the whole of Tam O'Shanter from memory. I would now struggle to get past the first couple of stanzas but I'm glad I learned it once. (I think it's all still in there as bits get dragged to the surface of my memory every so often.) Perhaps even the process and discipline involved in memorising stuff (any stuff) is valuable. So it's not Google or Noodle, but Google and Noodle.

Has memorising poems and/or lists of facts disappeared from the curriculum? Should it disappear? Is there a value in memorising things for reasons other than mere utility?

What do you think?

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Chris said...

For what it's worth, I used to be able to tell you how many camels were sent from the Sudan to Egypt every year to be slaughtered for himan consumption. (Really useful to know that). I could recite the first 150 years' worth of Roman Emperors in order. And I could recite Hamlet's first soliloquy. and what is interesting about these three varyied accomplishments is that I learned the material because I wanted to, some time between the ages of 14 and 17. Fascinating. ;-)

Chris said...

And I realise now that I learned to spell but not to type - so yes, I've noted the typos!