There is always a lot of talk about children who are under pressure at exam time getting so much help from their parents or teachers that they end up doing the work for pupils themselves. The internet is a great resource for kids to do research and learn without having to buy a book or get them from a library, and there is so much information in one place. These days you can go online and find a sample essay or a simple to follow example for pretty much any piece of coursework that is assignedÂ – so is it all too easy?
I don’t think that it is, but in my opinion, methods of assessing children and their capacity to learn and reason need to be altered to keep up with modern times. Rather than getting them to just learn facts and figures, which can generally be found with a quick search, we should be teaching them how to sort the reliable sources from the unreliable ones and that not everything on the internet should be taken as fact. This is an important skill in modern times; any one can post anything online without having to cite references or sources, and in many cases it is the opinion of the writer rather than a factual account that is the first result to pop up on a search.
Learning to sort out a credible source from a less reliable one is a hugely useful skill, and knowing what sources to trust will really help the children that are realistically more likely to believe what they read on the internet that what their teachers or parents tell them, especially if any kind of celebrity is involved. There is also an important safety angle in this; just because you are chatting to a person who says they are your age and a friend does not mean that they are in reality.
I’m not saying that children should not be taught facts and figures, just that they should also be taught to question what they are told and use common sense to evaluate the quality of the information; I believe this is a vital skill for anyone, and there are lots of adult out there who would also benefit from learning that just because something is in black and white it is not necessarily a fact.