*here smart is used to mean ‘full of knowledge’
Increasingly the knowledge of the world is at our fingertips, keyboards, cell phone screens, and other Hitchhiker’s guide-style devices that are always (or almost always) connected to the vast store of information and misinformation that we call the internet. So why do we need to know this stuff at all? Of course a core set of knowledge about how the world works is essential. But really, knowledge moves fast and it’s likely that more than 65% the knowledge currently in your head as ‘truth’ is mislabeled (it’s true- you can check my numbers on the web). So isn’t it more important- with this incredible mental crutch we have now- to be organized? By organization I’m talking about having an efficient file system for finding information. A database that stores metadata about the information, like where to find it. I’m constantly running in to questions that I don’t know the answer to and thinking, “but I DO know where to look to get that information” or, “I remember reading something in [publication/blog/website] about that”. Storing pointers to information is far more efficient than storing the information itself- and potentially more accurate. Still, the internet is chock full of bad information so it’s also essential to have a critical mind with appropriate search strategies and filters in place to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff.
I think that standardized tests should include sections on search. Increasingly, this is THE skill that will allow success. (Of course I’m being deliberately provocative here, I understand that search is different than those other important skills). Without efficient search strategies people will be lost and alone in a world that they cannot possibly know everything about. Search allows them to access this information and utilize it when they need it, then discard it (keeping pointers to new information they have ‘learned’, of course). Without filters to discriminate what’s reliable from unreliable (a necessary skill in any case) you will be unable to function.