"Knowledge is of two kinds. We know a subject ourselves, or we know where we can find information upon it. When we enquire into any subject, the first thing we have to do is to know what books have treated of it. This leads us to look at catalogues, and at the backs of books in libraries."
— Samuel Johnson
This came up while I was working on a longer piece but I decided it deserved a short post of its own.
In the two and a half centuries since Dr. Johnson's time, the amount and the value of the second kind of knowledge has increased substantially (as it had in the preceding centuries). Cheap printing, the internet and telecommunications (consulting an expert qualifies as the second kind) have given us ready access to a stunning array of information.
With a few exceptions, the ability to find and manipulate information is far more important than the ability to simply repeat it, but the push for accountability in education often focuses strictly on the first kind.
update: You can find a related discussion here.
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