Training DataSharks

A student asked me about the US Constitution during the lead-up to final exams.  “Mr. Watt, what year was the Constitution ratified?”

I said, “I’m not going to answer that.”

The student turned and gaped at me, open-mouthed. “But…!”

“No,” I said.  “You’re sitting AT an internet-enabled computer, right next to the shelf with ALL the American History reference books for your age group in this entire school.  If you can’t find the answer to that question, you deserve to miss it on the examination.”

She got the question right on the examination, so she must have found the answer.

Sharks are lean, mean, killing machines.  They swim the seas in search of prey, can smell blood from miles away, and grow teeth back that they’ve lost.

Our students swim in a sea of data.  There’s information around them, literally all the time.  Sometimes it’s in books, sometimes in magazines, sometimes on the internet.  But it’s amazing to me how many of them have no idea how to scoop up data in a hard-core way.

What’s the best way to teach kids to be DataSharks — not merely interested in information, but hungry for it, and voracious about chasing it down?

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