Friday, November 20, 2015

Skills vs. Content, Brain Rules

I loathe this debate. In many respects, it is false. However, in secondary schools and in prep schools I fear we skew too heavily on the side of content. We teach kids to know large chunks of information, but what do we teach them to do? This debate is an ongoing debate at my school. Good people who care about kids and learning come down on different sides of this debate. To the skills first crowd, I point out that there are ways of knowing that teaching for content promotes. This way of knowing is a skill. It isn't perhaps tangible, but it is real. To proponents of content first, I'd point out that much of what is taught is forgotten.  And if it is not reinforced as John Medina of Brain Rules teaches us, it is forgotten.

We have to teach kids to do things and not just know things. One should manipulate content when doing which is why this is should be a false debate. Sadly, sometimes it isn't.

How does technology fit into this? I see several ways, tech literacy is a skillset that many schools do not teach. Tech literacy should be embedded into instruction. Take a look at the ISTE student standards . One can see these skills can't exist outside content. Content is the vehicle through which one will learn the tech skills. You can't separate them. But we do. On both sides of the debate.

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