Teaching 21st Century Skills

TIME Magazine published a great article in a recent issue entitled How to Bring Our Schools Out of the 20th Century.  Much of the article resonated with me and I thought I would share some of my favorite parts with you.  I  have also included some questions that I hope make you reflect on the effectiveness of public education.

The article begins with a nice little “joke” many of you have probably heard before.

“Rip Van Winkle awakens in the 21st century after a hundred-year snooze and is, of course, utterly bewildered by what he sees. Men and women dash about, talking to small metal devices pinned to their ears. Young people sit at home on sofas, moving miniature athletes around on electronic screens. Older folk defy death and disability with metronomes in their chests and with hips made of metal and plastic. Airports, hospitals, shopping malls–every place Rip goes just baffles him. But when he finally walks into a schoolroom, the old man knows exactly where he is. ‘This is a school,’ he declares. ‘We used to have these back in 1906. Only now the blackboards are green.'”

Although meant to be comical, the joke sheds light on how little education has actually evolved with the rest of the world.  Take a minute a think about how the world has changed since you graduated and whether education at large has made the same strides…

The joke leads us in to many of the most important statements of the article…

“American schools aren’t exactly frozen in time, but considering the pace of change in other areas of life, our public schools tend to feel like throwbacks. Kids spend much of the day as their great-grandparents once did: sitting in rows, listening to teachers lecture, scribbling notes by hand, reading from textbooks that are out of date by the time they are printed.”

Now, reflect on your classroom… What are you doing that is innovative? How is what your students learning pertinent to today’s world? Will what you are teaching your students help them be successful in today’s global economy?

And one of my favorite quotes…

“This is a story about the big public conversation the nation is not having about education, the one that will ultimately determine not merely whether some fraction of our children get “left behind” but also whether an entire generation of kids will fail to make the grade in the global economy because they can’t think their way through abstract problems, work in teams, distinguish good information from bad or speak a language other than English.”

How much (if any) of our curriculum is centered around  authentic problem-solving, teamwork and information literacy? 

According to this article, the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce will be releasing a report sometime this week which rethinks K-12 education to help students be successful in the global economy.  Some of the 21st century skills outlined will be:

  • “Knowing more about the world” – creating global citizens
  • “Thinking outside of the box” – creativity and innovation
  • “Becoming smarter about new sources of information” – information literacy
  • “Developing good people skills” – teamwork

The remainder of the article illustrates how some schools are currently tackling these 21st century skills in their classroom, and it made me reflect on what we are doing right at my school.

At The Academy we have a few things in place campus-wide to help prepare our students for skills they will need to be successful in the 21st century.

They are –

I suggest reading the entire article and then reflecting on what you are doing to ensure your students are prepared to be successful in the 21st century.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Academy, EdTech, Education, Laptops, TIME

2 Comments on “Teaching 21st Century Skills”

  1. S. Seifipour Says:

    LOVED the article. Whatever it takes to get people having the conversation!

  2. kstringer Says:

    My 23 yr old read this outloud to me the other day. “See mom, finally someone understands kids these days!” I kind of groaned and responded, teachers have known this for years. It’s about getting public officials who are as old as RIP van Winkle to wake up and change their stinkin thinkin. We’ve got to have leaders with more vision than just $ signs and test scores on the brain.


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