Can’t I just Google that?

This summer, I had the pleasure of attending one day of the iSummit conference that was held in Atlanta, Georgia at The Westminster School.  One of the many interesting things discussed while there was the concept of “Googleable Questions.”  This idea centers around asking your students quality essential questions in class.  If they can simply google it to find the answer, then typically your essential questions are not truly essential questions meant to invoke inquiry and higher order thinking.

This topic really got me thinking. I have found in classes, and in observations, that many students see Google (or the internet in general) as the final answer to all of their questions, instead of one jumping block in a long progression of blocks meant to aid student learning, inquiry, and discovery. In turn, I hear a lot of, “can’t I just google that?” or “I googled it, but it isn’t on wiki answers.”   If you are like me, you cringe when you hear this.  Google should be viewed in class as a means to gather research to make informed decisions, grow, and learn.  Right? I love technology, and I love the internet, but I can’t help but see it as enabling laziness while stifling creativity and inquiry for some students.

Because of this, I have been on a mission to foster inquiry in my students.  I make them start with questions, and I have them come to class with questions. I have asked several questions this school year that can’t be “Googled.”   Is conflict inevitable?  Is freedom a human right?  How might we solve the Syrian Civil War conflict without inflicting more casualties and bitterness?  ” How might we rebuild a nation that has been destroyed physically, economically, emotionally, and spiritually by a civil war? These questions require empathy, research, inquiry, and analytical skills.  You can’t just Google these questions and find an answer.  You must truly analyze topics from a global perspective and historical perspective before you can even begin to delve into answering these questions.  Students have been getting frustrated with these types of questions.   This is hard, and it’s uncomfortable for them.  It’s also uncomfortable to watch them struggle and be frustrated, but out of this struggle, comes discovery and originality.   It has been really exciting for me to see their excitement and eagerness to share their learning as they experience their “lightbulb moments” in this process. This is what I want from my students.  I am not here to be the teacher that gives them every answer. I’m here to be the facilitator of learning that guides them on their path to discovery while also learning with them.  That is so awesome!

So, the next time you hear “can’t I just google it?” or “I can’t find it. I’ve googled everything!” remember the beauty of asking essential questions of quality, and encourage your students as they become frustrated. Out of these frustrating moments in which students are forced to truly think comes pure imagination, discovery, and innovation.  We are teaching students to think, question, and solve!  How empowering!