Tom Vander Ark, always an important commentator, offered recently a short blog commentary on a formula proposed by Sir Michael Barber, an important educational reformer in the UK and for McKinsey.   Barber’s formula for what students should be able to do is E(K+T+L):  Ethical underpinnings wrap around the value of Knowledge, Thinking, and Leadership.     Nice.   I enjoy the little formula structures; just yesterday I was arguing for E2I as a valuable expression for capturing the importance of educating to innovate.    And as I seek an Aristotelian golden mean of thinking skills  and knowledge mastery, it is helpful to see this expression which works to unite them in the formula for the 21st century education elixir.

But regular readers, and St. Gregory followers, know I will want to offer one additional element to the recipe, creativity, ingenuity, or innovation.   My simple, and perhaps obvious amendment: E(K+T+L+I)

Vander Ark’s elaboration:

K is for knowledge.  Michael dismissed the ‘kids can just use a search engine’ argument against strong content standards, “Pupils need both theoretical and applied knowledge and the skills to go with it.”

T is for thinking “inductively and deductively, alone and in teams, logically and creatively, spontaneously and deeply.”

L is for leadership, “equipping students with the capacity to lead in their family, their workplace, their community, their world.”

The ability to know, to process in context, to act with sound judgement, is wrapped in E–ethical underpinnings. Barber suggests:

to thrive in vast, diverse cities, share the planet with other living things, preserve the wildernesses, generate economic growth without waste, resolve conflicts peacefully and deploy wisdom and judgment at moments of crisis. It is not “all relative”; these are matters of right and wrong on which the quality of life, and perhaps life on Earth itself, ultimately depend. Every interaction between adults and students is an opportunity to teach and learn these fundamental values. Great schools seize these opportunities.

Given the US preoccupation with “K” based standards, Barbers equation is a refreshing way to think about the aims of education.