Sunday, January 2, 2011

Education thought for the New Year

Here is a point from Matt Yglesias:

I think the evidence suggests that one of the most important skills people learn (or don’t) in school is self-discipline rather than specific knowledge. I don’t think learning the chronology of ancient near eastern empires (Sumeria then Assyria then Babylonia then Persia then Greece then Rome) in elementary school has ever been useful to me, or even that the chronology I learned is especially accurate, but a lot of life involves semi-arbitrary tasks and it’s worth one’s while to get used to performing them.

Going down this path would suggest that a lot of curriculum might be made optional and teachers might be able to focus on what they love (and are best at inspiring the students they teach). This could be another reason why approaches like the "Freedom Writers" could still have decent results despite completely ignoring the normal educational programme.

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