I recently read an article entitled, The Surprising Thing Google Learned About Its Employees — and what it means for today’s students. This article discussed several soft skills that students need to possess. The soft skills mentioned in the article are those skills that helped employees succeed in the workplace.After reading this article, 1 idea stood out to me. It was the idea of a soft skill for being able to make connections across complex ideas. This made me think of this common question from students, “Why are we learning this?”
The soft skill of making connections across complex ideas I took to include across the curriculum as well. This idea made me think of a book I recently read entitled, “Dumbing Us Down,” by John Taylor Gatto. In the beginning of the book, Gatto mentions 7 lessons that any teacher ultimately teaches further driving a gap between learning and the student. One of these “lessons” was called Confusion.
The lesson of confusion comes from the lack of logical sequence in teaching. Students go from one class to another with no real continuity. However, the outside world has natural sequences: learning to walk and learning to talk; light from sunrise to sunset; the ancient procedures of a farmer. These sequences make sense. This is not the case in school. There is a curriculum of disconnected facts that students understandably have trouble relating to. There is a lack of coherence within a school’s curriculum. Students go from one class to the next, mindlessly playing the game of school.
I would love to see more cross-curricular lessons being used in schools. I find this to be important to help create consistency throughout the day. I feel like students are hit with so much randomness through a 7 period day, it’s too much to take in. If you looked in any student’s locker, you would see a random mess of papers stuffed in binders. Google Drive is becoming the new unorganized locker. Look on any Drive and you will see docs, slides, drawings, and pictures, from 7 different classes, creating a digital mess. With all the different topics students learn throughout the day, I’m amazed at how they can retain information.
At the end of the day, I would like to see more consistency for student throughout the day. More cross-curricular lessons. I’m not saying it’s the answer, but it might help students make better connections. It might help students from feeling overwhelmed and asking the question, “Why are we learning this?”