Teaching the New Basic Skills

Richard J. Murnane, Author, Frank Levy, With
Richard J. Murnane, Author, Frank Levy, With Free Press $44 (276p) ISBN 978-0-684-82739-1
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According to Murnane, a professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Levy, professor of urban economics at MIT, schools are failing because they are not teaching children the ""new basic skills"" that must be mastered to earn a middle-class income. Those skills are defined by the authors as ""hard"" skills such as math and reading, ""soft"" skills including the ability to work in groups and make presentations and, finally, the ability to use personal computers. The authors argue that the best way to teach these skills is for schools to retrain their teachers by adopting principles used by businesses to motivate their managers. Although the authors' lengthy explanations of those principles have some interesting points, Murnane and Levy are occasionally unclear about how to apply them. They also make the controversial assumption that schools are for training students to earn a living, and they do not address the complexities of a shrinking job market. (Sept.)
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