Sunday, March 23, 2008

5 Basic Skills - Reading, Writing, Computing, Designing and Making

Reading, writing and mathematics are the most recent of the skills developed by humans so words and numbers have become the gold standard for basic tools in schools to the detriment of skills with tools like images, objects, places, movement and sounds which have much longer traditions in human development. We are now learning that the older skills are the most difficult for machines to learn and that reading, writing and mathematics are relatively easily done by machines. Schools emphasize skills that are better done by machines. Computers can do mathematical calculations and edit text much more quickly and accurately than most people but they have a hard time recognizing a familiar face or moving around a room. Computers can beat the best chess players in the world but they have a hard time finding an object and picking it up.

Look at any school's list of basic skills and see if there is anything that sounds like "Designing" or "Making" as basic skills. Schools are having a hard time showing relevance to the outside world because they favor reading and writing about things rather than making things or doing anything with them.

For schools to be relevant to the real world and America to survive in the global economy the list of basic skills for education should look something like:

5 Basic Skills: Reading, Writing, Computing, Designing, and Making

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