There are varying interpretations of the origin of the phrase ‘the three R’s’, usually engaged in an exhortation of the need to ‘teach the basics’. It may come as a surprise to some that ‘the three R’s’ – usually taken to mean reading, writing and ‘rithmatic – were also conceived as:

Reading and writing

Reckoning and figuring

Wrighting and wroughting

… where the third ‘R’ refers to the knowledge of action, of making and undertaking. The third ‘R’ is about making things, practical knowledge, the knowledge we attain in the University of Life. It’s where creativity (and ethics) sit and grow.

… And brings to mind, again, the distinction between mere competence and *capability*, a foundation of skills and competencies which are not ends in themselves but the testbed and toolbox for an occupation – and  life.

Michael Doneman is President and Board Member of The Old Ambo