It seems that a new habit has formed in our society, at least among people in our society who are net-savvy. Whenever anyone, anywhere, has a problem, the first way they almost always search for a solution is with an Internet search engine.
Think of the implications. Instead of wondering how to solve something and puzzling through the solution on our own, people would rather search for a solution that someone else created. Where's the discovery and innovative thinking in this solution path? How likely is it that you will come up with a different solution to a problem if you read someone else's solution first? How is this a thinking activity?
Here is an alternate proposal. For the biggest problems you encounter (or alternatively, the ones most within your area of expertise), do your best to solve the problem, figure out the issue, or find a solution on your own. Now search for solutions that other people have created. If your solution differs from the solutions you find, even if it is just a partial solution, write about it to let other people know about your thinking. We should all make an effort to contribute more to what is known about how our world works.
I do not mean that we should stop searching for information online. There is an enormous wealth of information online, and you would be foolish to ignore it completely. The small everyday problems like "where is the nearest shoe store" or "how do I tie a tie" are probably most easily solved with a simple search. It is the more complicated problems that we should all try and solve ourselves first, even if we struggle with it a bit, since this is where our own personal growth comes from.
David is a Formative Assessment Specialist for Mathematics at New Visions for Public Schools in NYC. He has been teaching since 2002, and has worked in Brooklyn, London, Bangkok, and Vancouver before moving back to the United States. He has his Masters degree in Educational Technology from UBC, and is the co-author of a mathematics textbook. He has been published in ISTE's Leading and Learning, Educational Technology Solutions, The Software Developers Journal, The Bangkok Post and Edutopia. He blogs with the Cooperative Catalyst, and is the Assessment group facilitator for Edutopia. He has also helped organize the first Edcamp in Canada, and TEDxKIDS@BC.