Are today’s teachers becoming less knowledgeable?

About fifteen years ago, one of my students looked at me and said, “Mr. O’Shea, you’re really smart.” I asked, “Why did you just say that?” “Because you know a lot of stuff, Mr. O’Shea.” I told him, “I don’t think I am smarter than other people. I am just older than you, have more life experience and read a lot.”

I thought about that moment from the past and then reflected upon the current landscapes in elementary school classrooms in many parts of the world.

When I had that interaction in 2003, Google did technically exist, but I think it really was a “pre-Google” teaching era. We couldn’t Google any question a student asked and within moments have an answer. Heck, Google wasn’t even a verb in those days.

Teachers had to know information. Many questions were answered based on their knowledge base. If a teacher didn’t know the answer to the burning question of the moment, much more work was involved in finding an answer that is required today.

So, today, are teachers less knowledgeable than their counterparts of years gone by?

Do today’s teachers have less information in their heads that they can readily access in order to answer students’ questions?


Are they as knowledgeable or maybe even more so, but in different ways?

When I started my teaching career (and I’m not very old), there were no smartphones or tablets.

We had moved on from the Netscape Navigator days, but they weren’t that far off in the distance.

I made many of my own worksheets in Word or photocopied black line masters from the shelves of them in the school resource library.

I thumbed through encyclopedias for answers and spent time in library stacks.

Fast forward…

I am a pretty techy sort of guy. I love using technology inside and outside of the classroom. I’m a podcaster and a digital content creator.


I know a lot of younger educators who are a heck of a lot more tech savvy than I am. They use that tech in much more creative and innovative ways than I do. They have grown up as digital citizens and simply think about its’ application in a different way than I do.

The younger educators I work with and have encountered over recent years are knowledgeable in my opinion. Of course, they are!

Many seem to have a different knowledge than us more veteran teachers though.

That’s why we need to collaborate and draw on all of our strengths together!

Together as “Knowledge Teams”, we are an amazing education force to be reckoned with.




About the Author:

Kevin O’Shea is an IB/PYP educator currently based in Beijing, China. He is a father, husband, and avid conservationist. Kevin is also the host of the upcoming Making Better Teachers Podcast as well as the host of the long-running Just Japan Podcast.

Twitter: @MadForMaple


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