What do we need to teach children?

In today’s world of constant access what children need to learn may be changing. While I don’t believe that children’s brains have changed because of technology, what they need to know may now be different.  Does memorization still have as important a place at the table?  Memorization as a skill will always be needed. Is memorization of trivial facts and figures as important as it used to be?

Consider the alphabet.  Absolutely young children need to learn their letters to learn how to read. But do they really need to learn the alphabet in order?  Most immediately jump to the answer that of course, there is no doubt that alphabetical order is as basic as well, your abc’s! But consider this, is it really so important that students know the letters in order?  In teaching computer science we teach sorting and searching.  In a computer language, it is easiest to sort according to the ASCII table.  If you didn’t realize it, the ASCII table is not in alphabetical order.  While the letters on the table are sequential, most are surprised to learn the B comes before a, and all of the numbers come before any letters.  When writing code to do a search you must compare ASCII values, not code to the alphabet.  While understanding ordinality is an important concept, is alphabetizing a thing of the past?  Why do we really need it anymore? When we search we are generally letting a device do it for us. As more records become digital, is there any purpose to knowing the order of the letters anymore?

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