Learn and Unlearn

Kathy Sierra Why does engineering/math/science education in the US suck?

Our educational institutions–at every level–need drastic changes or we’re all screwed. The generation of students we’re turning out today need skills nobody really cared about 50, 40, even 20 years ago. […] We must prepare them to think fast, learn faster, and unlearn even faster (“yes, that drug was the appropriate way to treat the XYZ disease, but that was so last week. THIS week we now realize it’ll kill you.”)

The Waterfall Model of education is failing like never before. We need Agile Learning.

I don’t agree with all of the article – but I do agree with the above.

( although honestly, I’m sick of the word “Agile” being thrown around in all kinds of circles like it’s some prayer or holy incantation of great promise of all that is good with software development. The ideas behind agile development are certainly an evolutionary leap, representing years of both university research and actual practice beyond the requirements gathering, design, “coding”, waterfall model of software engineering and development – but there’s as much crap that’s labeled agile as there is crap labeled waterfall. I think Sierra personally gets the reality of that though. )

I’m not so sure about “metacognition storytelling” or “anthropomophorizing” – but she’s right, we dang sure need to teach people how to learn and unlearn.

Whether it’s the cutting edge physical sciences, engineering, the life sciences or computing – yes computing – even if computing is just a means to your own area of specialty, and not a specialty in and of itself, we absolutely have to get it across that the assumptions you made last week have to be questioned with new information this week and to be prepared with a solid base of fundamental concepts, and a healthy dose of logic to be able to rapidly adapt to new tools and techniques, whether that’s some kind of new statistical model, an rna sequencing technique, upending the financial conventional wisdom, or something as base as editing another’s web page using some tool that will go away in six months, replaced with something faster, stronger, etc.