Schools teach only a minute fraction of the world’s available knowledge, and there isn’t even agreement as to what constitutes the most important content to include in that fraction. The names of the generals of the American Civil War? The political philosophy of the Mugwumps? How to conjugate verbs, solve quadratic equations, or convert from gallons to liters?
Many books have been sold extolling the significance of “What Every Third Grader Should Know.” But pick up a copy, and you’ll see that most successful adults (perhaps including you) would be unable to answer many of the questions. Does a doctor really need to know how to diagram a sentence or interpret Finnegan’s Wake? Does an artist really need to know the names of all of the bones in her body?
Data is only data until it becomes relevant to the individual; then it can be converted to information. As John Holt wrote in How Children Fail, “The true test of intelligence is not how much you know how to do, it’s how you behave when you don’t know what to do.” The Internet, among other sources, gives us instant access to infinitely more data bits than even the most extraordinary schooling could even attempt to dump into the minds of students. It is far better to know how to access the information as it becomes relevant, and to be able to think logically about how to use it, rather than to simply regurgitate it.