If we are ever going to shift away from an adult based, content heavy curriculum then what should we expect students to learn in schools? I am talking about a system where students are free to study according to their passions and interests. A system of projects designed by students and teachers together. A system that has no bells, no “classes.” The type of school where students drive all aspects of the learning.
I am going to argue that there is a core set of skills that all children should learn. I am also going to argue that this list is enough for all children to be successful. Implicit in this list is that all children are going to learn “how to learn” anything they choose to independently. By independently I do not mean in isolation, but without adult direction. That is each student should know how to research and connect with others who are experts to learn anything that they choose to.
It is a short list and probably each item deserves a separate post to describe what it is and isn’t. Here is my list of the skills that every student should learn:
Reading Students will learn to read all kinds of texts and genres as they are naturally exposed to them through classmates, parents, teachers, and exploring their passions through projects.
Writing Students will learn to write all kinds of texts and genres as they are naturally required to through their projects.
Speaking Students will learn to share their learning publicly developing important communication skills.
Computing Students will learn basic math computations as required by their exploration in projects. “Advanced” math will be learned in context when needed. All students will need an understanding of algebraic thinking and more emphasis should be spent on statistics.
Collaborating Students will learn the social skills of working together with others and how to take on different roles in different situations.
Problem Solving Students will learn to ask questions with depth. Emphasis will be on analyzing and evaluating results, rather than on the solutions.
Critical Thinking Students will learn to look at problems and situations from multiple viewpoints. Students will learn to identify and evaluate bias.
Empathy Students will learn to look at problems from multiple viewpoints and understand and relate to competing views.
This list represents everything that I think students should know how to do. It is absent of any specific “content” but applies to any subject that adults can make up. It is heavy on the 4C’s but intentionally omits creativity because I don’t believe that we need to teach or assess it. Adults just need to allow space and creativity will happen. It is innate in all humans.
What do you think? Anything missing? Unclear? Could this ever be the real national standards in the US or anywhere? Why not?