The world is evolving too rapidly

A short movie clip shown to us recently reveals the extent to which the world is evolving so rapidly that by the time we’ve learnt a new skill that skill would have become obsolete. Nothing comes closer to that description than the IT industry where obsolesence is measured in terms of months, not years.

But that’s not the scary part. The scary part is the conclusion drawn by some renowned educators that since new skills acquired are going to be obsolete any way, there is absolutely no point in learning new skills. Instead, students should be taught thinking skills for if they can think, they can teach themselves any new skills that are required of them in the future. This conclusion is part ludicrity and part wishful thinking.

The ludicrous part is the idea that existing knowledge isn’t useful in forming new knowledge. For example, a brand new programming language may appear in three years time. But that doesn’t negate the benefits of learning current programming concepts and honing in current programming skills using current technology. The consequence of not learning the basics of today while plunging straight into the future is to subject oneself to an even steeper learning curve.

The wishful thinking part is the idea that developing basic thinking skills through Sudoku for example, is the best way to equip students to deal with the specifics of their chosen professions in future. The idea is that since Sudoku helps the student think better, the student can then go on to become a good engineer, architect, scientist, nutritionist, film maker, nurse and so on. So a large chunk of the students’ time is spent doing Sudoku instead of learning the basics of the tools of their trades. How much more self-delusional can we get if we actually think that Sudoku can help students become the master of all trades?

Ultimately, what we ought to do is to help nurture the innate yet diverse talents of people and not subject them to the torture of going through that which they have no interest or no talent in.

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