So What?

A lot of our current education is based on answering either Who, What or How:

  • Who was the seventh President of the United States?
  • What is photosynthesis?
  • How do you factor this polynomial?

I think we would benefit from spending more time on Why, as in “Why do I need to know this?” Or to be more concise – “So What?”

I’m not recommending that students are disrespectful to their teachers. I’m suggesting that the adults need to spend more time asking these kinds of questions about our curriculum.

As I write this, we’re in week three of “social distancing” due to COVID-19. Many schools are about to come back “online” in remote learning mode. It seems pretty obvious to me that – at least at first – this isn’t going to be as efficient as the in-person methods we’ve been using for over 100 years. This is a good time to focus on the material that we think is really important for students to learn.

I suspect we’re going to learn that the curriculum starts from “How many days are in the school year?” as opposed to “What’s important to learn?” I don’t think this is on purpose, but I think inertia has brought us pretty far down this road.