Stephen Downes, in a post arguing that Joanne Jacobs has erected strawmen in her post on the 21st Century Skills debate, erects a few of his own.
Each of these three formulations serves to misrepresents actual positions held by educators that do stand up to scrutiny: that knowledge depends on critical thinking skills (not the other way around), that teachers address multiple cognitive needs (not just drill and recall), and that self-direction does not entail content-free learning.
Let's take each in turn.
Knowledge depends on critical thinking skills (not the other way around)
This is a demonstrably false statement.
Knowledge is defined as (i) expertise, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject, (ii) what is known in a particular field or in total; facts and information or (iii) awareness or familiarity gained by experience of a fact or situation.
Since knowledge includes facts and information, and facts and information can be acquired by rote (albeit inefficiently), knowledge does not depend on critical thinking skills.
The converse (Critical thinking skills depend on knowledge) is, however, true. You can't think critically unless you've learned a procedure for thinking critically (such as the critical reading procedure I laid out) without the knowledge of the steps (this would be information and facts) that make up that procedure.
That teachers address multiple cognitive needs (not just drill and recall)
This would be a strawman. Does anyone actually think that teachers should only address drill and recall?
That self-direction does not entail content-free learning
Another strawman. Does anyone actually believe that self-direction entails content-free learning? I suppose there is a risk that the self-chosen direction might not entail enough content, but this gets dangerously close to making a point that is educationally relevant.