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Patricia Ruvalcaba

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How can SOLEs be implemented without causing students to shun necessary but "boring" skills?

I remember when I was in 8th grade and a classmate asked me point-black what was the purpose of geography. Let me tell you, my answer of "so you know the climate of the country you are visiting or where is it" was utter rubish - both to my classmate and to me, but that was the only thing I could think of that she could actually relate to (two months later, she move to New Zealand).
In school, we are taught many things that we may not WANT to know, but that we NEED to know. Examples: grammar, composition, history, geography, mental maths, etc. Also, there are also many subjects for which we know the bare minimum (learnt at school) because we never give ourselves the time to learn about even if we know they are important (not many people actually read their country's constitution) or interesting (ethics, philosophy, art, etc.)

So... how ca SOLEs include these subjects without going against their principle (learning through self-motivation, not through imposition)


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  • Mar 10 2013: Why must all students learn all main subject then be thrown into the workforce that is very specialized? I think it is not fair to anyone to be graded on subjects that you have no desire to ever be part of.
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      Mar 10 2013: In fact, that is why I named the subjects I believe everyone should know, even if they have no interest whatsover in them. For example, history and geography are necessary because of geopolitics. If someone doesn't understand geopolitics, they he or she cannot understand what is told in the news, or he or she can cause a faux pas. Grammar is indispensable, no matter the specialization. Mental maths are necessary. Contrary to popular belief, sometimes is way slower to take out the smartphone and do the math, than to do it mentally.
      • Mar 10 2013: What good is geopolitics to a mechanical engineer? Or math to a cosmetologis? And who decides what parts of history are a must know? I agree sometimes its faster to do math on the spot instead of getting the phone out but the option to use a phone is still there
        • Mar 13 2013: Educational research shows that postponed choices deliver better results on the long run. For instance, take the Finnish system for education. There they give every individual the chance of discovering what he's good at instead of allowing them to drop subjects they might be good at. This prevents limited choices at earlier ages, when children or young adults just aren't capable yet of making informed choices for their future.
          You ask what good geopolitics is to mechanical engineers? What if that engineer was going to work in the middle east? What good is math to a cosmetologist? I would't have my hair died by one that doesn't understand proportions.
          You're absolutely right about one thing though: children nowadays grow up with all the information or computing power they would ever need within the click of a mouse or the swipe of a finger. Learning how to reach the correct information should indeed also be a big part of what they learn. This undoubtedly is a quite useful skill for anyone on any job.
          Who decides what to teach and to whom? I think the policymakers allover the world will decide about that. The only thing I hope is that their decisions will give enough freedom for the teachers to motivate and coach pupils as Sugata Mitra showed. He proved to me that in powerful learning environments anyone can learn anything.

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