Seth Godin tells us about The Wikipedia Gap.
Personally, I’m not all too convinced about Wikipedia being unreliable. Especially given the fact that it has found errors in Encyclopedia Britannica. But above that, I think Seth Godin makes a great point (as always).
It shouldn’t be about the hard facts as much as interpreting the facts. Knowing facts isn’t much point if you can’t present and interpret them well. Yes, people will argue that we need the factual knowledge, but doesn’t factual knowledge change? Up until recently, it was a fact that the speed of light doesn’t change. Recently, there have been studies which show that the speed of light has changed with time, a finding that would basically change physics as we know it.
It all goes to show that even known “facts” can change. The important thing is knowing how to interpret and synthesize (as Seth Godin puts it) the facts. That’s what schools should be teaching students to do. And accepting Wikipedia references wouldn’t be detrimental to education in any way. It would actually just put more focus on the synthesis. And that’s what it should be anyway.