Types of Knowledge

Here are three types of knowledge we would like adults to possess, and therefore children to learn:

Skills (scriptlets). People who are very skilled at something often employ complex strategies, which are, in essence, combinations of scriptlets, packaged so that the understanding of how they fit together gives their user the reputed skill.

Cases: A case is a story about one or more events that comprise a whole. Cases typically serve to illustrate points about how to behave or how the world works. Each point illustrated by a case is usually of some larger significance; that is, it can be generalized to other situations. Sometimes, however, cases are simply used as reference points that are part of the common culture. The Battle of Gettysburg is a case. It might be used to illustrate one or more particular military points, or to tell us something about history, or it might simply be used as an example of something all Americans know about. Cases can typically be described from many points of view.

Processes: A process is a high-level skill we feel is especially important; they tend to have a very abstract nature. The decision to call X a process and Y a skill is inherently political since it is based on what one feels the school system should proactively support in the curriculum. The school system can successfully pursue only a few skills proactively; those we believe the school system should select are processes. Given that one can effectively pursue only a few processes, it makes sense to pick very high-level ones. The three processes we concentrate on are communications, human relations, and reasoning.

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