President elect Obama has consistently highlighted education as a priority for his administration. Once we get students in class, what we teach them becomes the important issue. Reading, writing, and math will always form the essential foundations for any curriculum. But today information is essentially free to any literate person with access to Wikipedia, libraries, or book stores. Two enduring skills now become critical: evaluating information sources, and collaborating effectively with others. The Theory of Knowledge
-deciding what to believe-is a core skill we all need to be able to make our own well-formed decisions. Because we are deluged by a constant flood of information from a wide variety of sources, each of us must evaluate and decide for ourselves what information is reliable and what is not. The theory of knowledge can guide us in deciding what to believe, what to ignore, what to question, and what we don't know. It separates well-founded beliefs from assumptions, rumors, and myths. Don't be fooled; know how you know. The Theory of Knowledge is essential to life-long learning. The world changes quickly, we need to keep up. I am an electrical engineer. I completed my college education before personal computers, the Internet, cell phones, video tape recorders, CDs, DVDs, iPODS, digital cameras, camcorders, and flat screen TVs were available. Yet the ability to read, ask questions, make connections, and evaluate the credibility, importance, and relevance of the available information allows me to continue working in this fast paced field. Students must learn to learn for themselves by asking questions, seeking answers, finding information, evaluating and deciding for themselves. This is the essence of the Theory of Knowledge. Emotional Competency--the essential social skills to recognize, interpret, and respond constructively to emotions in yourself and others-is a core skill we all need to work together constructively. High functioning teams accomplish more, but typical collaborations are crippled by poor cooperation, conflict, polarization, resentment, anger, greed, cruelty, personal attacks, poor communication, and other destructive interpersonal behavior. Effective interpersonal skills can be taught. This is the essence of Emotional Competency. Emotional Competency can help solve many important human problems. In many developed countries, divorce rates increased markedly during the twentieth century. Genocide continues at a horrendous rate. More than 7,000 hate crimes occur each year in the United States. Depression rates in the United States have increased by a factor of ten over the past century. Anti depressants, mood stabilizers, anti-anxiety drugs, and other drugs used to modify moods or stabilize emotions are heavily used. Job satisfaction generally remains low. Road rage kills thousands each year. Stress, child abuse, spouse abuse, suicide, underage drinking, bullying, school shootings, violent crimes, street gangs, drug abuse, alcoholism, addictions, religious intolerance, terrorism, tyranny, oppression, war, and other destructive behavior continue to take their human toll year after year. Increasing Emotional Competency can help reduce this suffering. As your administration works to improve education domestically and around the world, please include effective instruction in The Theory of Knowledge and Emotional Competency.