The main idea I have is that schools play a significant part in shaping our students’ lives, much more than just teaching them skills, as I explain below.
I guess we all agree that schools should prepare our students with the skills required in the 21st century and that teachers should try to create Innovative learning environments that lead to lifelong learning skills. This includes problem-solving, innovation, creative thinking, entrepreneurship, foundational skills and collaboration in today’s classrooms. I believe that such skills can only be taught by teaching students other basic skills. I do not think one can think critically nor solve a problem if they do not have a certain level of reading, writing and numeracy, as mentioned in In Education, Back to Basics. Creativity and innovation can be taught through reading, writing, and solving math/geometry problems, and it can be enhanced through musical and artistic skills. Googling can not explain these basic skills. As once said, “You can’t google understanding.” For our students to be able to sustain certain levels of work and creative production, they need to maintain a certain level of health, which requires them to have some basic nutritional education. While I agree with the annotated reading on listing these basic skills, I disagree with giving the art, music, health and nutrition lower priority. I believe these basic artistic, musical, and nutritional skills are important to help shape a human being with a broad horizon and appreciation to different life venues.
I also believe schools are to operate as a certification authority of students’ capabilities and mastering skills required for life. Schools should train students on applying their basic knowledge and skills across different subject domains and disciplines, ultimately preparing and certifying their mastery of skills required for the 21st century.
However, I do believe that schools are not there to prepare robots or problem-solving machines. I think schools play a crucial role in teaching students “social values” that are very important for their future. For example, I believe it is imperative for students to be a team players and to be equipped with values of honesty and integrity. Other values include: companionship, friendship, and respect, to name a few. These are not google-able things and have to be taught to students. This can help us save more significant problems such as ‘racism’, climate change, etc. The appreciation for these values can have a fundamental impact on our lives.
As I mentioned in a previous blog post The idea is to teach students the methods and techniques to learn the knowledge required to serve their interests and motivations and to achieve their goals as individuals but also to service and achieve the goals of humanity as well. I really believe that coming up with a standard “levels of education” framework and debating the pros and cons will help shape our educational system and schools.
This framework should be well-designed to capture the above, among many other things and also to exclude irrelevant skills and knowledge (I do not mind scrapping multiplication tables out of the curriculum). The framework should carefully consider the role of technology and how it affects the role of schools. Technological change is making it easier than ever for students to create their own lifelong learning experience. It is essential to not only teach students how to use contemporary technology but also to teach them how to learn to use futuristic technologies on their own. Maybe one possible way to enhance this is to have Teachers combine different teaching and pedagogy strategies with various technologies available. Students need to be taught how to build their digital citizenship safely; this will save them of many problems that they can face in the future.