the purpose of education should be to make us more effective at life

The time has come to stop quietly accepting the mistaken – yet popular – notion that education is primarly about getting jobs. The purpose of education is to make us better at using the collective knowledge of the human race in all areas of life. Yes, this includes our jobs, but it also includes raising our children, being informed citizens, managing our households, enjoying our leisure time, and just being good neighbors. Education should be to make us more effective at life. And as a powerful, new and poorly understood technology, computer education should be central to our learning experience


*Everyone* needs to learn the fundamentals [of how to use computer technology], right in the core curriculum along with math, science, reading and history.

Thoughts On …: Teaching Magic

Jakob Nielsen, too, advocates teaching life-long computer skills, like search strategies and basic debugging.

life-long computer skills

i have been thinking about this for a while, without being very specific. as it turns out, Nielsen thought about the specifics before i got to it…

Life-Long Computer Skills (Jakob Nielsen’s Alertbox)

Schools should teach deep, strategic computer insights that can’t be learned from reading a manual
There is some value in teaching kids skills they
can apply immediately, while they’re still in school, but there’s more value in teaching them deeper concepts that will benefit them forever, regardless
of changes in specific applications
[This will give] students insights that they’re unlikely to pick up on their own
People will
learn how to use features on their own, when they need them — and thus have the motivation to hunt for them. It’s the conceptual things
that get endlessly deferred without the impetus of formal education.

Following are some general skills that I think we should teach in elementary

here’s the short version of Nielsen’s list:

  • search strategies
  • information
  • information overload
  • writing for online readers
  • computerized presentation skills
  • workspace
  • debugging
  • user testing and other basic usability guidelines