It's a pretty cool word. It comes from the middle of the 19th century: from Spanish, via Latin from Greek siros ('corn pit'). It's been around a bit!
Morphing along the way into a verb, it means to isolate something from other things. Like, frinstance, 'single subject disciplines at school have become siloed'.
Recently, a colleague blogged her concerns about teaching subjects in isolation. Was that the best way to impart necessary skills, she wondered.
I thought it was a pretty cool thought. My short answer was, No!
Here's my slightly longer answer, Nope!
Necessary 21st century skills as listed in her post were:
- Problem solving
- Relevant/appropriate communication
- Work ethic
I'd argue that some of these aren't actually skills but desired qualities or attributes but what the hey. Let's keep 'em.
Does my subject (English) aim to impart those skills? You betcha (we would probably add creativity and fostering curiosity to the list). Does mathematics? I'd guess - yep, they do.
So, it's a dilly of a pickle. Or is it?
The solution seems simple to me (simple guy with a complex life remember):
- Let's make the desired skills drive how we create the organisational culture at our school and work to (long term) ditch silos (and the timetable as we know it).
- Let's create more personalised cross subject common times without subject teachers.
- Let's use occam's razor to 'cut away' all the unnecessary material (less is more).
- Let's focus on what students REALLY need.
- Let's introduce Project Based Learning.