When Knowledge Is Unforgettable Adults remember more of what they learned in school than they think they do—thanks to an aspect of education that doesn’t get much attention in policy debates.
Researchers have long known that going to school boosts IQ. The question is whether it makes people smarter by building mental horsepower, by adding to students’ database of knowledge and skills, or some of each component. Recent research published in Psychology and Aging shows that people who stay in school for a longer part of their lives are no faster at simple mental judgements (like line comparison) than their less-schooled counterparts. Other research published in Psychological Science shows that high-performing schools do little to boost kids’ mental horsepower. Instead, schooling makes students smarter largely by increasing what they know, both factual knowledge and specific mental skills like analyzing historical documents and learning procedures in mathematics.
In other words, education must be knowledge-focused--just like E.D. Hirsh has been telling everyone for decades now. Simultaneously, education schools have been downplaying the same need for knowledge because 1) they think learning science, history, spelling, etc. bores kids, and boredom is the greatest evil in schools to be rooted out and stomped on wherever it is found, and 2) kids don't need knowledge when they have Google!