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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 30 2013: This talk argues that, of the "needs" you've listed, composition, history, geography, mental maths, constitutional law, etc. are completely unnecessary, a relic of the age of empires when we were raising students to be replaceable cogs in a world-wide machine. All of them now can be quickly handled by a computer with a simple web search.

    Grammar (or, more generally, communication) cannot be easily "outsourced" to a computer. But in the examples given by the talk, children taught themselves the necessary language skills in order to interact with the computer. In other words, the computer itself was a big enough reward to make investment in that "boring" skill worth while.

    Also note the perceived "boringness" of an area of study seems to be related to the question asked of the SOLE. The example given from the talk: asking about the abstract tangent of an angle is uninteresting. Asking about the trajectory of an asteroid that may or may not hit earth is interesting.

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