What is Big Think?  

We are Big Idea Hunters…

We live in a time of information abundance, which far too many of us see as information overload. With the sum total of human knowledge, past and present, at our fingertips, we’re faced with a crisis of attention: which ideas should we engage with, and why? Big Think is an evolving roadmap to the best thinking on the planet — the ideas that can help you think flexibly and act decisively in a multivariate world.

A word about Big Ideas and Themes — The architecture of Big Think

Big ideas are lenses for envisioning the future. Every article and video on bigthink.com and on our learning platforms is based on an emerging “big idea” that is significant, widely relevant, and actionable. We’re sifting the noise for the questions and insights that have the power to change all of our lives, for decades to come. For example, reverse-engineering is a big idea in that the concept is increasingly useful across multiple disciplines, from education to nanotechnology.

Themes are the seven broad umbrellas under which we organize the hundreds of big ideas that populate Big Think. They include New World Order, Earth and Beyond, 21st Century Living, Going Mental, Extreme Biology, Power and Influence, and Inventing the Future.

Big Think Features:

12,000+ Expert Videos


Browse videos featuring experts across a wide range of disciplines, from personal health to business leadership to neuroscience.

Watch videos

World Renowned Bloggers


Big Think’s contributors offer expert analysis of the big ideas behind the news.

Go to blogs

Big Think Edge


Big Think’s Edge learning platform for career mentorship and professional development provides engaging and actionable courses delivered by the people who are shaping our future.

Find out more

In Praise of the "Cheat Sheet": When Memorization Hinders Learning

September 15, 2013, 11:40 AM

What's the Latest Development?

The Information Age has made humans more managers of knowledge than vessels for it. As a result, our schools are debating whether students should still memorize facts and formulas so readily accessible on any smartphone, or if they should concentrate on the concepts that bind those facts and give them meaning. "Memorization has enjoyed a surge of defenders recently," according to Ben Orlin, a high school teacher in Oakland, CA. "They argue that memorization exercises the brain and even fuels deep insights. They say our haste to purge old-school skills-driven teaching from our schools has stranded a generation of students upriver without a paddle."

What's the Big Idea?

Orlin argues that while memorization served students well in the past, its primary purpose was to help students cope with the technological constraints of the day. "What separates memorization from learning is a sense of meaning. When you memorize a fact, it's arbitrary, interchangeable--it makes no difference to you whether sine of π/2 is one, zero, or a million. But when you learn a fact, it's bound to others by a web of logic. It could be no other way." To encourage students to learn facts, teachers must alter tests to emphasize concepts, rather than continue to test students on their ability to memorize lessons. 

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com

Read it at the Atlantic


In Praise of the "Cheat She...

Newsletter: Share: