Thursday, May 7, 2009

On Being Skillful

We often disregard the skills. We want kids to think (adults too for that matter). As we try to measure things like creativity, we try to avoid the skill threshold or work around it.
I am like that too to a certain degree. But, as I think about these constructs I strongly believe that creativity, intelligence, and learning are all deeply embedded in domain knowledge and a threshold of skills that allow you to engage meaningfully with the the subject matter.
In other words, Tiger Woods that cannot putt well is just a golf bum who thinks a lot about the game, Einstein without his knowledge of math is just a crazy dude sleeping on a park bench. Before we disregard skills in favor of other "higher order" thinking we must remember that when Bloom created his taxonomy he did not mean that knowledge is not as important as any other level in his hierarchy.
Sooooo, my point is that teaching skills and measuring them should not be disregarded. Moreover, if we intend to measure any higher order thinking about these things- creativity, interpretation. We must also measure skills- to make sure that skills are not the filter that mediates what we measure. If we do not, what we claim is creativity may just be a proxy to skill level and out of school experiences.
In fact, I would argue that the only way to reliably measure creativity is a dynamic assessment in which students are first provided a meaningful context to work in and provide content knowledge and then their actions with these building blocks are measured.
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