Children need core education skills

Children need core education skills

The World Economic Forum recently published its vision for the future of education.
The innovations of digital technology, virtual learning environments are the advancements in artificial intelligence will impact how we learn and the contexts in which education takes place. We should encourage ‘debating and reflecting’ and encourage learning in ‘non-formal and informal’ settings and time frames. 
However, I’m always concerned when people say ‘Reading, writing and calculating would happen as much as debating and reflecting in joint conversations’. This can often be a euphemism for replacement or the curtailment of these key activities in a more traditional setting. Whatever technology or systems are in place we need to ensure that children can read and comprehend without just parroting other people’s views and that they can calculate without the use of technology.
First and foremost the human brain must learn the basics of literacy and numeracy. As they used to say, ‘reading, writing and arithmetic’ are the key planks in a child’s development. Once these are in place all the other modern technologies and digital innovations can be utilised and explored. The great scientists and thinkers of the enlightenment were blessed with a classical education that taught the classics mathematics and philosophy. They then went on to explore, discover and innovate and needed very little help in doing this. If we ensure children are equipped with the core skills they will go to do this in our society too.
The obsession with the tools rather than those that operate the tools can lead us down the wrong path. After all, the most complex computer technology, artificial intelligence, and digital technology are of little use to someone who has poor literacy or numeracy. Those that have advocated radical approaches to education have often been more concerned with exploration than methodology. My view is that children in primary schools must learn methodology as well as exploring their world. They must know the basics first as a basis for exploration as this helps them organise and understand the world around them.