Skills or Content - What is most important to teach?
Important Curriculum Components
When sifting through what to teach students, we often get lost in the myriad of curriculum components required and forced upon us as teachers. Every year the curriculum is becoming more and more crowded as pressure mounts to ensure everything (and sometimes anything) is taught in our schools.
When you get down to the nitty gritty of it, what is the most important aspect that needs to be taught from our curriculum?
The answer to that is we must focus on Skill Development.
Skills are the key to successfully accessing any curriculum or subject area. The ability to describe, evaluate, compare, justify, analyse, identify, etc. are core skills that must be taught.
Teaching these 'cognitive-verbs' are the key to ensuring students achieve success and are equipped with the skills needed to be successful members of society.
Upon a visit to Microsoft with a group of students we asked them what they looked for when employing new workers for their company. The response was straight forward: They look for graduates who possess the ability to critically analyse, problem solve and think outside the box. They do not have to be IT geniuses but must be able to have the skills to learn and adapt and change.
In the past, we have too often focussed on teaching kids content based curriculum. Content is important and aids in the delivery of skills, but content is not what we should base our teaching on. There is now more power and information in the palm of our hands than ever before. What we need is to equip kids with the ability to access and find the 'content' or information they need, analyse and evaluate it and then use it in a way that they need. No longer do kids need to recall facts and numbers because they can finds these at their fingertips.
Develop skills in our young people, including social ones, to make them better equipped members of society.