Redefining knowledge

You can define a person’s knowledge as whatever is stored in their memory. But you can also define their knowledge as their ability to retrieve information on demand.

A memory champion can memorize all the books in a library’s bookrack and tell you where each book was located. A librarian knows how books are organized in that bookrack, and therefore, can find where a book is located just as effectively. In fact, a librarian’s system can extend to racks stacked across several floors, whereas a memory champions ability is more limited.

We have traditionally couple knowledge tightly with memorization. Our school system continues to value rote memorization over everything else. Yet, knowledge in a digital world has become more about retrieval rather than memory. Rather than train my memory, I am better off training my retrieval skills.

Here’s a thought for schools to ponder – rather than test if students know the answer to a question, are we better off testing their ability to google it and fact-check their results?

To know something is to know where to find it.

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