Most Likely to Succeed, which celebrates San Diego’s High Tech High, argues for schools to focus on “the relational skills” needed in the workforce, writes David Brooks in the New York Times. That includes “being able to motivate, collaborate, persevere and navigate through a complex buffet of freelance gigs.”
But it means students will learn less about the world, he writes in Schools for Wisdom,
At High Tech High, one group “studied why civilizations rise and fall and then built a giant wooden model, with moving gears and gizmos, to illustrate the students’ theory,” Brooks writes.
Most Likely to Succeed doesn’t let us see what students think causes civilizational decline, but it devotes a lot of time to how skilled they are at working in teams, demonstrating grit and developing self-confidence.
. . . teachers cover about half as much content as in a regular school. Long stretches of history and other subject curriculums are effectively skipped. Students do not develop conventional study habits.
The road to wisdom starts by learning facts, such as “what a neutron or a gene is, that the Civil War came before the Progressive Era,” argues Brooks. Then students must learn to “link facts together in meaningful ways.”
At some point while studying a field, the student realizes she has learned a new language and way of seeing — how to think like a mathematician or a poet or a physicist.
At this point information has become knowledge. It is alive. It can be manipulated and rearranged. At this point a student has the mental content and architecture to innovate, to come up with new theses, challenge others’ theses and be challenged in turn.
Wisdom comes with experience, Brooks concludes. “The stairway from information to knowledge to wisdom has not changed.”