The discourse surrounding skills in education and learning has often been dismissed as mere ‘skill–talk’. This article seeks to reject this criticism by arguing that much of the criticism of skill–talk rests on an unsatisfactory behaviourist view of skills. Another approach towards considering skills is also considered, an approach deriving from the Aristotelian concept of technē, but this is also rejected. It is suggested that the concept of ‘situational understanding’ provides the best way of thinking about skills. This approach firmly situates the learning of skills within context: the possibility of all–purpose generic skills is rejected. At the same time, this approach helps to articulate what is needed from the standpoint of agency if skills are to be ‘transferred’.