Today I received a link to this 1939 lecture given by J. Abner Peddiwell.
Very relevant to our times.
In the lecture we learn about an innovative caveman who hits upon a method of improving the lot of his tribe by setting up an educational system. All is well until the conditions under which they live changes. The “curriculum” they have been teaching their children becomes irrelevant with the advent of an ice age. However, reform of the curriculum is resisted by the now established system.
The lecture raises many questions. Here are a couple I have:
- What are the skills and knowledge that we need to teach and aren’t at present?
- Keeping in mind that teaching & learning is a human activity, what in education (thinking of the art of great teaching) is universal?
The lecture does not address how the children were taught but focuses on what. Fair enough considering the historical context in which the lecture was given.
I wonder if our challenge in the second decade of this century is to prepare our children (and ourselves) for the changes coming in the next decade and the decade after that.
I wonder if the “how” of teaching & learning is a bigger piece of the change than the “what” (the specific skills and knowledge).
The two are intertwined but we should be able to distinguish them from each other.
Does the “what” leads the “how”. Traditionally yes. Still today?
But… if one of the key things we want to teach our students is “how to learn” then the “how” and the “what” are one and the same. No?