Archive for March, 2013

Learnhow versus Learnthat

March 5, 2013

I was at Mapunity earlier today with Ashwin Mahesh and E. S Ramamurthy of the Sikshana FoundationI wish I have Ramamurthy’s energy when I am 75. 

Ramamurthy mentioned something to us which I find interesting: in *one* month, he is able to teach a kid who’s reading at 4th standard level to read at the 7th standard level. One hour a day every day for 30 days. Which makes me think three things:

  1. Should we separate skill acquisition from concept acquisition in schools? After all, when we learn driving, we don’t learn whether we should take the car for vacations or the route to work. It might be useful to separate out the *what* and the *how* of education. 
  2. Do we really need 12 years of schooling that mixes factual, skill-based and conceptual knowledge and does a bad job of all three? It seems that we can impart the basic, universal skills (broadly the 3R’s) in a very short period of time if the person is ready. Why not create an education system that identifies when a person is ready – we will need good data and integration of developmental psychology into the assessment of children- and imparts the skills at that time. Let’s say that takes a total of 3 years. The rest of schooling can be continuous and lifelong rather than an enforced confinement for 12 years. 
  3. Can we imagine skilling schools that are more like driving schools and less like our current teaching schools? These schools will be optimized to “learning how” rather than “learning what” and can be used for lifelong skill learning, from the 3R’s to coding and 3D printing and all kinds of 21st century skills?