We often hear about how swiftly evolving technology is transforming the acquisition of knowledge in our schools. However, though the modes of acquiring information may change rapidly, the essential knowledge that high school students should possess is fairly timeless.
- How to communicate. Beyond simply parroting a rehearsed message, students must consider their audience’s needs as well as their own intentions for what to communicate, and then figure out the best channel for that communication. Technology quickly alters those channels, so schools need to keep a vigilant eye on what’s new, and adopt and adapt in proportion to the needs of their students. Project-based learning requires more intensive and more intricate levels of communication among students than traditional modes of learning, making it one of the best ways to help students sharpen their communication skills.
- How to form research questions. With information scarcity no longer an obstacle for most U.S. students, all learners must know how to direct their curiosity into actionable questions. Research protocols like The Big Six and others give clear and repeatable structure to inquiry, allowing students to make question design and formation a habit rather than a whole new endeavor each time their curiosity bubbles up.
- How to ask for help. Too many adults assume that students’ digital nativeness equates to expertise with all technology, and too many students are led to believe the same. I don’t meet many teens who can harness the power of spreadsheets, however. Adults need to ensure that schools are places where asking for help is encouraged, instead of being an impediment to covering the next content chunk. Students need to consider that adults actually do know things of value to them. Adults facilitate that attitude by listening well to them and helping each student understand that their independence springs from adults who help them build that capability by stepping over one stumbling block at a time.