From Now On
The Educational Technology Journal

 Vol 11|No 1|September|2001

Pressing Issues, Essential Questions and Matters of Worth

How can we best protect beaches and wild species from pollution, oil spills and other threats?

© 2001, J. McKenzie

Unless we shift school research away from topical research, there is little chance students will learn to form new ideas, create solutions to pressing problems or make well-informed, thoughtful decisions.

Finding out about a foreign country, a province, a state, a general, a battle, a chemical substance or a social issue does little to sharpen thinking skills. Topical research requires little more than collection of information.

When we ask students how we can best protect or restore an endangered species or habitat, or when we ask them to suggest ways to breathe life into an industry that is struggling (such as some online businesses, some fisheries and some brick and mortar retail outlets), then we challenge them appropriately.

They should not be able to find an aswer. Cut and paste thinking should fail them. They cannot collect conventional wisdom. They must come up with fresh answers.

For more on the process of building studies around essential questions, read "The Question is the Answer: Research Programs for An Age of Information" -

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Credits: The photographs were shot by Jamie McKenzie.

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