The three Rs that everyone says we have to get back to in education. And I agree that we need to teach reading. No matter what the platform, whether a book, a magazine or a blog, you are probably going to need to read. And writing really helps not only to communicate your thoughts, but to organize them as well. And despite the trauma of middle school math, I think being able to do even advanced mathematics is important. One of the reasons it is so hard to understand economics and policy is that we really don’t understand numbers, especially big numbers.
That said, I think that the basics are just the start. Now, all of these skills must be integrated with even more skills, like co-operation, verbal communication, and how to work with very diverse and international groups. These are soft skills and difficult to assess. Yet I would say they are just as important as the hard skills. I would also add critical thinking, and the ability to navigate the new technology that right now we can’t even imagine. We need to teach our students how to learn, not just how to study.
I think that is something I’m thinking about right now, because my students just finished a practice SAT test, still have more on the speaking test, and then will take their final tests. All in the next three weeks. I can see the strain. And that is why I want to change things a bit.
On the good news side, I”m grading papers that my students have been writing. We started a writing program as an experiment at the beginning of the school year, and I’m really happy with the improvements I’m seeing. Yes a few still use Google translate, and although I think it is a good tool, in the end, for this program, I want them to use their own language. They have a lot more creativity and imagination than they are being encouraged to use.
We think that education should prepare students for the jobs of the future, but how can we do that when we don’t even know what those will be? Why don’t we instead prepare students to think for themselves, to learn from others, and to develop all their talents? (even the talents that won’t turn into their career)
Why don’t we teach our children how to be good human beings with the skills they need to learn the skills they will need for the future.
Sir Ken Robinson has laid out the problem and the solution quite well.