Monday, December 26, 2011


The word skill implies a variety of components. One of these is practice. Another is observation. A third is evaluation. A fourth is reflection. Then there is an investment of time. Ideas may come quick. Skill often takes time.

Did you know that you can develop skill at taking bubble tests that has major impact on results? Back when I was first exposed to bubble tests, I was an elementary school student in Omaha, NE. Later, I took the SAT test in preparation for college, and there was never any thought of practice or test preparation beforehand. Now ACT preparation, SAT prep, GRE prep, training classes and practice tests are big business in all three, and students are promoted or afforded (or denied) major opportunities based on test results. ACT prep alone, to prepare students skills in taking the test is a 4 billion dollar industry not counting the efforts made within schools to raise test scores.

I am not saying that there is an easier/better system for all this. As long as we keep looking for easy ways to measure smarts, there will be a denial of the value of those skills that are hard to measure. How about being able to concentrate through the whole of one's body as one must do in taking a straight shaving off a plank? So many behavioral expressions are cognitive but also connected through the whole of one's experience, not isolated in the brain alone, and these skills and abilities, often described as "noncognitive" are difficult to measure and thence ignored in American education. We are all diminished by their absence. A major portion of a child's interest in learning comes through the development of these real skills. Interest in learning arises through the sense of deeper connection one gets through being involved in real multisensory experience and personal agency within.

Today, my wife and daughter and I are going to visit Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. I'll make a delivery of small boxes as shown above to the museum gift store.

Make, fix and create...


  1. I love the third paragraph. I shamelessly copied most of it (with attribution) to Facebook and a new blog I am working on.

  2. How could I resist a blog post titled with mt single favourite word by one of my favourite online writers.

    It is all rather preaching to the converted but good to hear.

    Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts. Einstein

    Problem is the bean counters don't have enough nouse to value hand skill so they count easy stuff instead.

  3. Robin, they can't place value on what they don't know. And our school system makes certain that a large proportion of kids slip through the crack of never experiencing the joy or challenges of hands on creativity. They've been called "finger blind" and just as a blind person cannot see the outlines of an object, the finger blind cannot perceive its intrinsic value. As long as they're running things we're screwed.