I've said for years that a person cannot think "critically" without having some knowledge about which to think--but the first several lines of this post are far more eloquent and pithy on the subject than I've ever been:
This post reminded me of something I wrote back in 2005, in response to other assertions by educationists to the effect that technology makes memorization unnecessary. I quoted some lines from a song by Jakob Dylan:
Cupid, don’t draw back your bow
Sam Cooke didn’t know what I know
…and observed that in order to understand these two simple lines, you’d have to know several things:
1)You need to know that, in mythology, Cupid symbolizes love
2)And that Cupid’s chosen instrument is the bow and arrow
3)Also that there was a singer/songwriter named Sam Cooke
4)And that he had a song called “Cupid, draw back your bow.”
“Progressive” educators, loudly and in large numbers, insist that students should be taught “thinking skills” as opposed to memorization. But consider: If it’s not possible to understand a couple of lines from a popular song without knowing by heart the references to which it alludes–without memorizing them–what chance is there for understanding medieval history, or modern physics, without having a ready grasp of the topics which these disciplines reference?
You can't "think" until you have something in your head to think about.