Knowledge and Skills, not Knowledge vs. Skills

If you're new to ICS and this blog, you might not yet appreciate how deeply we are committed to helping children by building their background knowledge and cultural literacy. And how this approach lays a foundation that will lead your children to soar in the years to come.

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Just ten weeks into the year parents are already hearing stories from their kids, who can tell how their eyeballs work - that the pupil dilates in response to darkness and contracts when it is bright. That ancient Babylonians invented cuneiform (it rhymes with uniform). And that two plus three is five.

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But just as importantly we see the students are learning how to care. How to listen. How to take turns and play safely at recess. A child, overwhelmed in the block area at choice time, became upset. Her actions could have scared other kids. Instead one classmate told the teacher, "I can go to another room and we can play quietly together."

This commitment to real academic rigor AND emotional growth is what motivates me and our Principal, Ellen Borenstein, every day. And it is these stories that energize us.

Two recent articles in the paper caught our eye.

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In Schools for Wisdom David Brooks observes that modern society is advancing technologically - that's kind of the definition of modern, no? But as many schools (and parents) rush to put kids on iPads he reminds us

The cathedrals of knowledge and wisdom are based on the foundations of factual acquisition and cultural literacy. You can’t overleap that...

A few days later I read Why What You Learned in Preschool Is Crucial at Work.  The author notes that "skills like cooperation, empathy and flexibility have become increasingly vital in modern-day work."  Shocking eh?

She interviews an economist from MIT who notes our kids will face a challenging job market:

If it’s just technical skill, there’s a reasonable chance it can be automated, and if it’s just being empathetic or flexible, there’s an infinite supply of people, so a job won’t be well paid.

It’s the interaction of both that is virtuous.

The crazy idea at ICS?  How about we surround kids with great books and compelling stories, AND teach them to care and take turns too?

Not easy, and we will surely make mistakes.

But like love and marriage, you can't have one without the other.