I recently read Tony Wagner’s The Global Achievement Gap which tries to address the changes that need to happen in high schools. He states that our curriculum has become too test driven, and that even what Newsweek considers the best schools in the nation are really no more than schools that have done really well teaching to the test. If AP test results are the measure for success, then teachers will be ‘covering’ content rather than letting our students develop passions for learning and solving problems. They become consumers of factual knowledge and are trained to learn the stuff that’s going to be on the test rather than using that knowledge to ask more questions and try grapple with complex problems. He breaks his book down into seven survival skills:
- Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving
- Collaboration across Networks and Leading by Influence
- Agility and Adaptability
- Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
- Effective Oral and Written Communication
- Accessing and Analyzing Information
- Curiosity and Imagination.
While this book primarily focuses on middle and high schools, Wagner’s 7 ‘survival skills’ are important to any elementary educator. While kids are developing some basic core understandings, they should also be engaged in activities that are developing those survival skills.