Every so often someone comes out with the idea that we don't need knowledge (or teachers or even schools). For example, Sugata Mitra, writing in the Times Education Supplement, says:
If we make the curriculum not of things we know but of things we don't know, there will be little to teach and much to learn. We call this a self-organised learning environment (SOLE).
Now, I was thinking of responding to this, but as I think Tom Bennett did a pretty good job in SOLE: Snake oil learning experience?, I don't think I'll bother. After all, I have a lot on my to-do list, and if I responded to every example of this sort of thing I'd never get anything done at all.
I think Bennett got one thing wrong in his article though. He says that "we're the turkeys who voted for Christmas", referring to that odd-to-say-the-least phenomenon of "teachers applauding people who have never been classroom teachers, telling them that teachers aren't necessary." It's actually worse than that: if you incur a financial cost to attend a talk by anyone who is there to tell you that teachers are surplus to requirements, or that all we need are "facilitators", or whatever, then you're a turkey who has paid to vote for Christmas. That's nothing less than insane.
I was going to write a post along the lines of "What do African school children -- you know, the ones who walk for miles and miles to get to school -- know that Mitra doesn't? But Bennett covered that, in a way, in his regular column, when he describes how one of his pupils walked for three hours to get to school during a train strike and bad weather, because:
education was very important to him and his family because it was so hard to access in his native country.
And this brings me to what I wanted to point out, something that you don't get to see when you read articles individually online, taken out of the context of the periodical in which they originally appeared. Whether by accident or design, Mitra's article saying that kids can do it for themselves, and Bennett's article citing an example of a pupil walking six hours to school and back, are placed next to each other!
I think this is a real example of delicious irony, and an example of where paper beats digital hands down!