David Fleming
It's All Academic   www.davidflemingsite.com   
David Brooks Gets It, Too

January 21, 2011:  David Brooks Gets It, Too

David Brooks, Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, is one of my favorite political pundits out there.  Heck, who am I kidding, he may be the only political pundit I can take on any kind of regular basis.  I more often than not disagree with his basic political leanings, but, boy, he does craft some very persuasive arguments.

Today, Brooks published a column that is one of his best ever:  The Amy Chua debate.  Brooks correctly identifies the middle ground between the demanding education of memorization, practice and, frequently isolation; and the education of socialization, inter-personal dynamics, and self-understanding.

In the public debate over standardization, measurement, and learning outcomes, what is often forgotten is that kids (and adults) need the classroom (virtual or real) to learn more than just the equation, or the theory, or the notes.  I've spent years with colleagues trying to determine measurements for competencies such as ethical reasoning, or creative thinking, or intercultural awareness.  There are no simple rubrics for "evaluating" a person's development in these areas. As Brooks says, "this skill set . . . is imparted through arduous experiences."  I'm not even sure the full revelation of how much these so-called (probably "unfairly") soft skills is evident until long after the class, and perhaps the degree, is over.

Thank you, David Brooks, for being the usual, calm voice among the venomous voices.