Memorising facts and figures is a waste of time for most school children because such information is readily available a mere mouse click away, a leading commentator has said.

The existence of Google, Wikipedia and online libraries means that there is no useful place in school for old-fashioned rote learning, according to Don Tapscott, the author of the best-selling book Wikinomics and a champion of the net generation.

A far better approach would be to teach children to think creatively so that they could learn to interpret and apply the knowledge available online. Teachers are no longer the fountains of knowledge; the Internet is, Tapscott said. Kids should learn about history to understand the world and why things are the way they are. But they dont need to know all the dates. They can look any date up and position it in history with a click on Google, he said.

Tapscott denies that his approach is anti-learning. He argues that the ability to learn new things is more important than ever in a world where you have to process new information at lightning speed. He said, Children are going to have to reinvent their knowledge base multiple times. So for them memorizing facts and figures is a waste of time.

His observations chime with a trend in British classrooms to cut back on traditional teaching and to personalize learning.

Schools are increasingly moving towards more independent study and so-called enrichment activities, with pupils learning at their own pace and focusing on what interests them most. At Wellington College in Berkshire, for example, teenagers are not taught from the front of the class, but instead sit around a large oval table for seminar-style discussions.

Tapscott believes that the model of education that prevails today in most classrooms was designed for the industrial age. He suggests that the brains of young people today work differently from those of their parents. He argues that digital immersion, in which children may be texting while surfing the Internet and listening to their MP3 player, can help them to develop critical thinking skills.

His views are unlikely to be universally welcomed. Richard Cairns, Headmaster of Brighton College, one of the countrys top-performing independent schools, said that a core level of knowledge was essential: Its important that children learn facts. If you have no store of knowledge in your head to draw from, you cannot easily engage in discussions or make informed decisions.

9. You will hear part of a radio interview with Jackie Haylett about starting at a new school. For questions 1-8, fill in the gaps according to what you hear.


Jackie Haylett used to be (1) . .

She says the move to secondary school marks the beginning of the end of (2) . .

At secondary school children have as many as (3) . teachers.

It is important for parents to (4) . and . their child at the end of each day.

However, parents should try not to (5) . .

Parents can help reduce a childs anxiety by establishing a (6) . .

Two checklists should be written if parents are (7) . or . .

Parents should encourage their children to (8) . as possible.


10. You will read four extracts which are all about the writers school days. For questions 1-8, choose the answer (A, B, C or D) which you think fits best according to the text.


  1. Aircraft of a New Generation
  4. Olivier, a French university student, talks about learning English and the difficulties he has.
  5. Paolo is talking to his teacher about some techniques to help him assess his progress in learning English.
  8. The Lost Generation
  9. Google Analytics
  10. Google
  11. Google

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HOMEWORK: HOW USEFUL IS IT? | The Eleven Plus Exam: Recollections

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