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Google & Wikipedia make knowing facts irrelevant to kids

The emergence of Google and Wikipedia means children should not be taught to memorise cumbersome facts, according to a best-selling Web 2.0 author.

This week might well mark the anniversaries of the Battle of Austerlitz, Monte Casino and the bombing of Pearl Harbour, but kids should not have to learn them according to Don Tapscott, author of the best-seller Wikinomics.

He argues that teaching methods being used on children were dreamt up in another age and education needs to move with the times reflecting new technologies, which make facts and figures available at the click of a mouse.

Tapscott who coined the phrase "net generation" says a better approach is to teach children to think creatively so that they can learn to understand and then apply the knowledge available freely online.

Tapscott said: "Teachers are no longer the fountain of knowledge -- the internet is. Kids should learn about history but they don't need to know all the dates.

"It is enough that they know about the Battle of Hastings, without having to memorise that it was in 1066.

They can look that up and position it in history with a click on Google. Memorising facts and figures is a waste of time."

He dismissed the traditional method as "anti-learning" and argues that teaching kids to learn new things is more important than ever in the information age: "Children are going to have to reinvent their knowledge base multiple times. So for them memorising facts and figures is a waste of time."

Tapscott is best known for his 1998 book 'Growing Up Digital', which he has followed up with his latest book 'Grown Up Digital'.

The book is a study of around 8,000 people in a dozen countries born between 1978 and 1994.

He is also the co-author of 'Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything'.

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