The myth that today’s students need a completely different set of skills does not really hold well. Students, spanning different centuries, have always needed the same things. These are things that are germane to the human intellect. We should not let our digitally-focused environment cloud the truth that emotional and social skills are just as important as all those techy skills we have been chewing on for so long now.
Don’t take me wrong, digital skills are indispensable for FACILITATING a better learning but they are only part of the picture, a nod in a connected circle whose whole perform better than any individual part alone. Analytically speaking, when you vet the skills that are over emphasized as being crucial for succeeding in our information society you would realize that they are nothing new. Critical thinking, social networking, collaboration, synthesis, evaluation have always been the sublime goals of any education.
You might think that the needs of education, say, in the industrial and even preindustrial or agrarian societies were mainly to apprentice kids to master the skills required for working in assembly lines or in farms and so are not the same as today’s needs. But even way before these societies and before the existence of the concept of society itself, great thinkers like Plato, Socrates, and Aristotle and later on Desecrate and Kant to mention but a few , all emphasized the importance of learning in the enlightenment of the minds.
Their treatises are full of insight on the importance of critical thinking skills. However, and for political reasons , the rich ruling classes needed people to serve them and keep their inetrest intact and so they used education as a way to enslave minds as was the case in the industrial era. They deviated education’s enlightening track and devoid it of its sublime objectives, ones that early thinkers had theorized and which we are rehashing again in the 21st century but only in a different version, one that is more or less digitized.
My contention is that the core skills for thriving in any learning environment have always been the same, it is only the surrounding environment that change and with these changes the core skills acquire new dimensions and expand, and are not being replaced. Most of the digital skills we think of as novelties of the 21st century education are nothing else but the old skills clothed in digital garment. In other words, technology facilitates the cultivation of the long established skills of education and is never a deviation or alternative to them, it’s only an enhancement of them.
What do you think about my argument ? Do you agree or do you look at the topic from another lens? Looking forward to your comments.