So I’m trying to push my own thinking here a bit, and I’d love some feedback. If I believe (and I do) that school should be more about letting my children find and solve their own problems with others, create and share meaningful works about the ideas they care about, and develop the dispositions they need to be powerful, patient and passionate learners, then what are the fundamental bits of knowledge or skills that they need to do that?
Some context. Last week I had a conversation with someone whose opinions I respect a great deal, and he said given the world as it is, we could probably do away with 75% of what we currently attempt to “deliver” to every child in the system. In doing so, we could free up a whole lot of time for students to learn deeply around the things they care about (as opposed to the things we think they need to know) and, in the process, get to much of that good stuff that I mentioned above.
For instance, every student in New York state is expected to be able to answer the following on the Regents exam:
Really? Every child needs to know this, why?
I know we’ve been having this debate on the fringes for awhile now. I think this post from Karl a couple of years ago speaks to the tension around this. But if we are to redefine our value in schools, and if that redefinition moves us away from creating kids who are learned toward, instead, the development of learners, what does each child absolutely have to know and be able to do?