Somewhere To Aim

According to John Gatto, a few years ago “a famous school in Harvard” warned its students that academic classes and professional credentials would begin to count for less and less when measured against real world training. The Harvard department thought that the following nine qualities would be essential in finding a place in the new world order:

1. The ability to define problems without a guide.

2.The ability to ask hard questions challenging prevailing assumptions.

3. The ability to pull out what is needed from masses of irrelevant information.

4. The ability to work in teams without guidance.

5. The ability to work alone.

6. The ability to persuade others that your course is right.

7. The ability to make new patterns with old information.

8. The ability to present, discuss and debate in public.

9. The ability to think inductively, deductively, dialectically, and heuristically. [See below.]

With the possible exception of (6), that seems like a the basis of a curriculum worth aspiring too.  (Quality (6) I might re-word as the ability to do what feels right, regardless of what other people are doing  (rather than wasting time trying to assert the validity of one’s point of view when actually, on this wonderfully diverse planet, your “wrong” opinion is as valid as my “right” one.  Something else to aspire to, at least!)

Inductive: using a particular set of facts or ideas to form a general principle.

Deductive: to reach an answer or a decision by thinking carefully about the known facts.

Dialectic: a way of discovering what is true by considering opposite theories.

Heuristic: allowing students to learn by discovering things themselves and learning from their own experiences rather than by telling them things.


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