I came across the following statement at the AASLS Smackdown wiki this morning:
According to The Associated Colleges of the South, “using critical thinking skills and appropriate technologies, information fluency integrates the abilities to:
- collect the information necessary to consider a problem or issue
- employ critical thinking skills in the evaluation and analysis of the information and its sources
- formulate logical conclusions and present those conclusions in an appropriate and effective way” – Information Age Inquiry
Before I comment, I must make it clear that I am not opposed to teaching Information Fluency. I am, however, opposed to the idea that education is about knowledge accumulation and this concept, “information fluency” tends to lend itself well to that way of thinking. “Collect, employ, formulate” these are not the skills of an information age – these are the skills of a process age.
These skills are process skills – something we use to do something else. Schools should revolve around educating process skills and not focus on content accumulation. Content is dead as a means for justifying education, process education’s time has come. So throw content out – right? No! Content must become a fluid component flowing freely between disciplines. Any content can be used to learn the process skills that are at the core of society today and content need not be relegated to a specified discipline.
The focus on “information” will only hold our students back from learning to innovate. The lauded Information Age is dead, and schools seem to have missed the fact that the Process Age is going to quickly bury American students in tombs of standardized testing knowledge.
- Collecting information involves the process of reading, evaluating, analyzing.
- Critical Thinking is a process that employs evaluation, analysis, and synthesis.
- Formulating logical conclusions is the result of the first two.
These describe the process of constructing meaning – and that should be the foundation of education in our schools. Instead leadership (maybe a misnomer today) continues to send our students down the numerical rabbit hole by putting the spotlight, arguably the entire focus of education, on standards, testing, and a narrowly focused curriculum. A curriculum that shatters the big picture into bits and pieces that are rarely reassembled into a whole. Students are thus left with the notion that you can never talk about writing in Science, nor do experiments in Social Studies, and never, ever do but read or write in a language class.
Go ahead and teach information fluency – but do not use it as the driving force. Take the spotlight off of “information” and place it on process. This is not simply a semantic consideration – it is one that will result in students learning how to construct meaning and produce additions to the knowledge base – and that is what they will need to do in the future.