The teacher can be talking about history or math. But what students in a traditional classroom are learning is how to be students in a classroom.
And they are learning it very well. Students are given ample opportunity to practice this skill in a variety of settings and contexts. As if they were playing a rigorously designed (albeit it drab) computer game, students in school systems over the course of a decade are put in ever more challenging situations of sitting in a classroom.
They are learning how to take notes. They are learning how to surreptitiously communicate with peers. They are learning how to ask questions to endear themselves.
It is impressive, at one level that we spend billions on this perfect, practice-based environment to build and hone children’s abilities to sit in classrooms. And we have even built a reward structure to praise those people who can sit in classrooms better than anyone else. We let them run our planet.
However, given this model is economically running us into the ground, and obesity is a global epidemic, it may be time to collectively build and reward different skills. Learning is a full contact sport. To learn something new, a student has to do something new, and often be some where new.
Rather than treating those who want to do something as troublemakers to be fixed, we need to recognize that these people will be the engines of our improvements in standard of living. And, in fact, they always have been.