By Gordon Rugg & Sue Gerrard
There’s a lot of debate in education about “teaching the facts”.
There’s also a lot of debate about the definition of “facts” and about the nature of teaching.
However, a couple of things tend to be conspicuous by their absence in these debates.
- There’s a significant absence of numbers relating to facts, such as how many facts a student should know about a particular topic.
- There’s also a significant absence of categorisation systems that use more than three categories.
These absences are usually indications that a debate is focused on questions that aren’t going to produce useful answers.
So what happens when you plug in some numbers, and some richer categorisation?
In brief, you get this:
- students need to learn between one thousand and ten thousand facts
- there’s an upper limit of learning of about ten facts per hour, and
- you need to distinguish between about ten to twenty different types of “fact”.
These results have far reaching implications for education. They’re the topic of this article.