What is worth knowing?


“Good thing I learned about parallelograms in school. They have really come in handy this parallelogram-season.”

I hear jokes like these made all the time; insinuating that what is taught in schools isn’t relevant to daily life so it’s not worth learning. I really feel these statements divide our society into two camps: (1) school should be about preparing for life, and (2) school should be about learning to learn

In the first camp, are those who feel school should be about preparing for life. To be clear, I see this camp as those who want school to be about the daily skills we need to survive in society. This camp wants students to learn to cook, clean, do taxes, and change a tire. (To be clear, all of these skills are taught in schools today, but are undervalued because they are not part of the “core curriculum” of mathematics, languages, social studies/history, and science.)

In the second camp, I would put those that see learning as a process and that we learn to learn is more important than the content we learn. Teaching problem-solving in mathematics (for example), if done in a way that a growth mindset endures, can teach others how to approach problems in daily life. if you apply what you know in new ways, you can solve any problem.

Learning to learn teaches that if you apply what you know in new ways, you can solve any problem. It teaches students to find and evaluate the information they need instead of expecting to learn everything from a syllabus. Isn’t this a more valuable use of learning time than to learn a skill specific to one situation?

I guess I just have trouble with the viewpoint of who has the responsibility when it comes to learning a new topic or skill…

 

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