Best Practice

Knowledge and skills: How you can achieve both in your school

There is a virus doing the rounds – it makes people think that knowledge and skills cannot co-habit. Professor Guy Claxton says that ‘both/and’ – not ‘either/or’ – is perfectly possible. He offers some practical reflections for school leaders

There is a nasty bit of mental malware going around in educational circles which says you cannot have it both ways. You cannot do knowledge and rigour and good grades, and at the same time, build those much-vaunted “21st century skills”.

It is a tug-of-war, this virus says: if you are going to aim for “learning to learn”, say, that must necessarily detract – and distract – from the essential business of giving kids the knowledge that will lead to those all-important grades – as well as to ED Hirsch’s famous “cultural literacy”: that incontestable body of core knowledge without which all, and especially disadvantaged, children will flounder.

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