* The standard retort from the “bunch o’ facts” contingent is that no one thinks in a vacuum, that cognitive skills are necessarily employed with respect to particular items of knowledge. You need facts to analyze, a storehouse of information on which to reflect. But this is a straw-man argument because no one argues that kids should be taught to think about nothing. (Frankly, it’s not clear how we would do that even if it seemed like a good idea.) Rather, disagreement exists regarding the extent to build a curriculum — and, inevitably, assessments — around knowledge as opposed to skills and intellectual dispositions. Are facts treated as ends in themselves or as illustrative cases by which to understand the world? That bits of information (a) are so often quickly forgotten, particularly when they’re treated as ends in themselves, and (b) can be looked up on your phone when they’re actually needed constitute two strong arguments for the latter approach. A classroom whose primary focus is described by phrases such as deep understanding, critical thinking, creativity, and the construction of meaning isn’t one that’s devoid of facts. But its purposes go well beyond the transmission of a long list of dates, definitions, and other details.
There’s nothing wrong with being an enlightened person with no degrees to your name. But trying to belittle the opinions of people who read entire libraries and have titles to their name is usually a sign that you’re not an enlightened person at all; instead, you’re either going to be a dime-store cynic, a cretin, a woolly-minded spiritualist, or an awful complacent bore who greatly overestimates the validity of your own ‘common sense’ (that is to say, your various selfish whims and prejudices), and who’s quite content to let those who cause continual harm to screw us and the planet over, shrugging their crimes off with a “Well, that’s the way things are. Nothing to be done.” Being ‘enlightened’, ‘spiritual’, or ‘wise’ usually means you’ve just gulped down the bullshit that we don’t have the power to change things, that the world will just be what it may, and that the best thing a person can do is to remain aloof from evil and suffering.