Friday, April 11, 2014

Knowledge is useless...

Knowledge is useless if we don't know how to apply it... That's what I see happening in many of our students these days. They go to school, learn things... we call it knowledge but seem too see very little application of the knowledge that they learn into their every day lives. School loses its meaning....

I just taught my girl geography... about landforms, rivers, highlands, flatlands. She had actually learned them in school but it seemed not to have registered. Well, either she has not been listening in class or like what I have been seeing in many, our students just don't feel that learning is fun. And perhaps too they are not challenged in their classrooms to think, see the bigger picture, apply what they have learned and make knowledge meaningful.

Knowledge to many is basically a meaningless memorized set of information only to be regurgitated to score A(s). I recently gave a topic on GMO to a group of 17 year olds. I drew mostly blank. Maybe if I had given more time for them to think... But generally, I see mostly students who don't seem to be making sense of what they are learning. Many are doing well, but seems to lack that passion. Or maybe we have failed to ignite the passion to learn.

Geography is a fun subject. I showed her on Google Earth how where the Kenyir Dam was placed and how they built the dam. She was surprised to see the Nile Delta as the only green patch of life in what is an arid landscape of Northern Africa. I talked to her about it being one of the places for early civilizations and I could see flicker of understanding and interest as it dawned on her the importance of rivers in early civilizations. I explained to her why rapids are found at the source of rivers and how the flow tapers off as it heads to the sea. I told her about the importance of geography and linked it to the how a good understanding of Geography and Science helped the traders from China and India sailed to Malacca.

Lessons should be fun because it helps us understand our surrounding And we have technology to help us these days. Maps can be called up in an instant. Google Earth enables the learner to see the actual place... some in 3D! I wanted my girl to see the tectonic plates and a simple search got me the graphic I wanted. It made it easier to get the point across.

Anyway, why do we learn? Is it to pass exams only? To hone our skills?? To fill our time? I think knowledge that cannot be applied is like data that is just numbers without any real world associations. Knowledge that is not shared is useless too, cos it sits in our heads for our own consumption only. It's kinda like some of us who sit around and lament about the state of our surrounding but do not do anything about it. I think for knowledge to be useful, we need to be able to associate it with its context or relate it to other contexts. Or perhaps use it to improve ourselves.

Which brings me to this... If teachers cannot ignite the passion for learning in students, then we have failed to pass the torch. Learning if not ignited, dies???? I don't know but it feels like it's quite dead in many of our young.

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