Essential Questions are fun because there is no one right or wrong answer.
There are many answers, each with the ultimate potential to be right or wrong, or even change from right to wrong or back at any given time.
Our Essential Question today is: Academics or Life Skills? Should special education teachers emphasize one over the other, or is there a happy medium?
My answer: Yes.
My other answer: No.
My third answer: It depends.
I’m not trying to be difficult (there are those who will say I accomplish being difficult without any effort at all) but this is one of those questions of which the answer one gives depends entirely on one’s conception of the purpose of education.
My conception of the purpose of education is that it is essential that children be prepared to lead adult lives.
This is the problem with statements that need to apply to everyone.
Even if we narrow the statement to apply only to special education students;
It is essential that children be prepared to lead adult lives to the best of their individual abilities.
Not much clearer, is it?
The problem is that in stating the purpose of education, we are trying to answer an essential question.
Every student, whether or not in special education, needs an individually crafted answer to questions of whether academics or life skills should be stressed and to what extent one should be stressed more than the other.
It gets more basic than that: For each individual student the definition of what is appropriate to teach changes as each student develops.
When it comes to education, there are no easy answers.
It is time we stopped looking for them.