What about the basics?


A very common question. Find a great answer to it on the site of the – Brooklyn Free School.

The answer is a question… What are the basics? Perhaps that’s what we need to redefine per an individual, per their community.

basics?  or  the basics? ..makes a huge difference.

The basics as defined by school is a very limited and restrictive set of skills. However, the word basic is often referred to as essential. Essential translates to absolutely necessary or extremely important. If we deem something as basic it should by it’s nature show up as we live, … No?

For those worried about basics that might not show up, these can be strewn, offered, and exposed. But our urge to mandate perceived basics, most often cripples and compromises the learner.

On the other hand, and strikingly more of a risk, yet more overlooked, denied, or accepted, too many people aren’t getting what we think are the basics now. They may be playing the school game so well that it appears they are, but legitimately getting the basics has been proven time and again to be false when they enter the job force or arrive a the university campus, and are unable to perform expected basics. Research is telling us that over 90% of kids either cheat or cram the day before a test, so that a week later, they don’t remember. Even by their own measures and prescribed basics, test scores continually reveal a great disconnect. ie: It’s hard to go through a day of real life without engaging in mathematical thinking. School math, however, per the common core standards, isn’t necessarily practical, useful, or basic. Have you rationalized a denominator or conjugated an imaginary number lately? And if you have, how common do you think that is?

Literacy was at 95% before we introduced compulsory education. When people have a need to be literate, the will be literate.  – Carol Black

pyramid network

Perhaps the web is showing us how unnatural/unhealthy/inefficient our insistence on any basic as standard is. Perhaps there’s some specific math you need to know before you build a bridge, but that is a long shot away from everyone needing to know (or pretend to know) that skill/content. Better to learn on a need to know basis.

bot ist art ist entire cleanerest

Perhaps like we did with two of our most useful skills – walking and talking.

pyramid to walk


The notion that an organization can teach anything at all is a relatively new one. Traditionally, society assumed that artists, singers, artisans, writers, scientists, and alchemists would find their calling, then find a mentor, and then learn their craft. It was absurd to think that you’d take people off the street, teach them to do science or to sing, and persist at that teaching long enough for them to get excited about it.  Icarus Deception


When we asked Amy if she thought kids could learn to read without teaching them to read, she said, Peter Gray.

John Gatto proclaimed, “The only way you can stop a child from learning to read and liking
it is to teach it the way we teach it.”


what is essentially basic?

might we redefine nclb?

might we model another way? one without the assumption of a package deal.

insisting on the basics.. makes us fragile (rather than anti-fragile).. no?


maté basic needs law