What We Really Want Our Students to Learn

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What We Really Want Our Students to Learn

One of my newfound PLN members from Hobsonville Point Secondary School in Auckland, New Zealand, Steve Mouldey, Tweeted a page from the introduction of my first book, The Falconer, the other day. It reminded me of a foundational assumption that I started constructing 30 years ago, and still believe in today:

We are not teaching our children, our students, and our co-workers what they really need to know.  The lessons aren’t out there on some shelf or Web site.  They won’t be found with more money and more programs to push more stuff in more different ways at our kids and our employees.  It’s not about computer-to-student ratios, distance learning, high-speed links to the Library of Congress, or lecture podcasts.  It’s not a pricey self-help guru claiming that his “new thing” is new, seven cookbook steps to success, or ten simple mileposts to make a million for your company.

Those tools help, but they are the dressing, like ornaments on a Christmas tree.  We need to pay attention to the tree itself.  Look at the people who invented computers, who designed the Internet, who overcame the Depression, who envisioned the best sellers, who challenged racism, who explored the ocean depths, who built the Panama Canal, who created the management-consulting firms that you hire to tell you how to run your business more efficiently. I want my children and my employees and my co-workers and my friends to exhibit qualities like invention, courage, creativity, insight, design, and vision a lot more than I want them to know the capitals of South America or the sequence of presidents and kings, fractions, computer science, art history, running a cash register, or throwing a football.

In short, I want us to spend more time teaching how to generate and recognize elegant solutions to the many problems facing our world.

Why in our great system of child rearing and primary, secondary, college, graduate, and postgraduate education is there no course of study titled something like  Strategies for Becoming Who I Want to Be?

School teams like those at Hobsonville Point are starting to scale this emphasis up from single pilots or one stand-out teacher to entire organizations.  Nearly every educator I meet wants to join this movement.  What is your school doing to get us there?

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