Leo Babauta points out 9 essential skills for kids on his blog www.ZenHabits.net. Unfortunately I couldn’t get past his opening line “kids in today’s school system are not being prepared well for tomorrow’s world” and future “unschooling” proclamation. I take these as a bash on teachers like myself for supposedly not teaching those skills.
Maybe its just in my head but as a proud educator I see his article and advice as running away from the problem of a flawed curriculum rather than fixing it. He himself says that problem solving is an essential skill to teach our children so why not bring these skills into the school system instead of home schooling. I posit that’s because these essential skills are in fact being taught. At least they are in my classroom.
Let’s take a look at each of these 9 skills for a moment. They are in fact great for all educators to incorporate and were a large part of my personal teacher training.
- Asking Questions – This essential skill is one of the Key Comprehension Strategies that are mandatory in my school. This is a part of critical thinking that I was required to include in every single lesson plan for my professor and every teacher that I know encourages questions. Yup this one is a keeper and has been around for ages.
- Solving Problems – Aside from entire math units named “problem solving” the best of us don’t hand the answers to students on a silver platter. That doesn’t even mention the PBL movement that I grew up in and is a huge part of my classroom.
- Tackling Projects – Every day, every week and every unit my students are given new projects to complete. Sometimes its a solo project and others is a group project but my students are given a goal with an example of the outcome. Projects are an essential part of school and have been for at least the past 3 decades.
- Finding Passion, 5. Independence, 6. Being Happy on Their Own, 7. Compassion, & 8. Tolerance are all too important for ALL role models to teach. These are modeled daily in my classroom but unfortunately in my decade as an educator I’ve found them absent from far too many households. Perhaps the unschooling movement should actually become unparenting?
9. Dealing with change – Change is hard. Hard for anyone but important for everyone. As Leo says “By teaching them to adapt, to deal with change, to be prepared for anything by not preparing them for anything specific.” If we want to prepare our students for an unknown future then we must teach them how to deal with change.
Truth is I think all of these skills are quite essential and I would probably really like Leo if I met him. I agree that our school system needs to be revamped but I also believe that the skills he points out are present in my classroom and every classroom I’ve ever been involved in.
P.S. Sorry I went past the word limit. I just feel pretty strongly about the phrase unschooling. I bring student driven learning into my classroom and will always defend schools!