A Harvard education is the apex of American education. Parents in new York City begin planning when their children are still in utero for acceptance into the right kindergarten, which can lead to the right private school and the right prep school, all with the eye to gaining acceptance to the Ivies, with Harvard as the gold ring for entry into the American Upper Class.
That American education, from K through BA and BS, has been busily dumbing down for the last 30 years is by now unremarkable. However, Harvard appears to be finally taking the final step, dispensing with knowledge altogether:
Just like Finn and Muldoon wrote, "Harvard is yielding to education’s most primitive temptation: lowering standards and waiving measurements for the sake of convenience." Zimmerman's reply is cute:
But the critics have it exactly backwards. Final examinations reflect an antiquated and largely discredited theory of learning, which equates knowledge with factual recall. By discouraging exams, then, Harvard is hardly forsaking academic rigor. Instead, it’s clearing the way for a more engaging, challenging, and truly educative college experience.
This sounds as a joke - a parody of a commercial - but I am sure that Zimmerman is serious. So it's a "discredited theory" if one thinks that "knowledge" is equated with "factual recall". Even leftist encyclopedias still have to invent a definition of knowledge that could exist without factual recall. Knowledge really is factual recall.
Now, the facts may be either largely separated pieces of information, connected at most with their nearest neighbors - like those in history - or a tightly interconnected network of insights that follow many universal principles and patterns and that can often be determined by many (not only calculational) methods - like those in physics. But they're still facts and their knowledge can be tested on the final exams.
Clearly, if "facts" in the most general sense - something that can be more or less rigorously tested on the final exams - are eliminated from the education as a "discredited theory", it's pretty much a tautology that the education actually doesn't teach anything that has any objective value.
It seems that pretty soon we can expect Harvard to take our best and brightest (plus a representative quota of less than the best and brightest who fill check marks on a list of diversity), teach them how to opine in an ideologically correct manner without any particular knowledge beyond a narrow schema through which to process all "facts" and enable their participation in a four year social networking endeavor.
What a waste.