UFT board member Jackie Bennett takes P21 to task for ignoring content knowledge over at the National Journal’s education experts blog.
Bennett points out that “having skills may be part of what it means to be educated, but only a part, and not even the most interesting or exciting part.” According to Bennett, the interesting and exciting part is actually learning about stuff.
“Think of it this way: can’t most children create a powerpoint comparing bicycles to skateboards? Can’t they think critically about their dolls, their teachers, their parents and their friends? But when a high school student reads about France and cannot even conjure up a picture of the Eiffel tower in his head; when he does not associate slavery with the Civil War, or asks why there are no Roman ruins in New York; when he cannot distinguish between a vertebrate and non-vertebrate; and when schools don’t teach these things because, after all, students can always ”access knowledge” on the web (a phrase I often hear) – when these things happen, then what good is it to know how to “think innovatively” if all we can think about is our dolls, our skateboards, and our friends?”
Disturbingly, Bennett says that “these examples come from various Advanced Placement English 11th grade classes that I have taught over the years.”