Teaching facts

Clio et cetera

There are some words that bring people out in a rash in the contemporary world of education. ‘Memorisation’ is one of them. ‘Facts’ is another. There is something about the word ‘facts’ that makes the hairs bristle on the backs of necks, or a sharp intake of breath through clenched teeth. At the very least people speak of facts in a hushed, apologetic tone: teaching facts is seen as a necessary evil, something to get out of the way, so that we can focus on the ‘real’ teaching. And what is this real teaching? Well it involves understanding. It involves meaning. It involves concepts.

I want to use this blog post to show why these purportedly more noble teaching aims are fundamentally factual in nature.

Let’s get some definitional groundwork out the way first. According to the OED, as fact is “a thing that is known or proved to be…

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