Schools tap '21st-century skills' |

Just saw this article on the Christian Science Monitor (which recently dropped its print version) concerning the tension between teaching content and teaching practical skills in schools. Much like the law students surveyed for the LSSSE, administrators and educators are clamoring for training in skills necessary for modern employment. Even President-Elect Barack Obama is enjoining schools to teach the “21st-Century Skills” that students will need when interacting with their “fast-changing future.”

Modern learning, according to the educators quoted in the article, blends academia and real-world learning and adjusts for the weakness in our current system when knowledge is actually applied to the task. Sound familiar? Sort of like law students lamenting the lack of practical legal writing experience?

There actually are internationally-employed tests for assessing our level of applied knowledge. The U.S. holds a low spot on the results list.

And just what are the desired skills? The article notes that “the ability to articulate and solve problems, to generate original ideas, and to work collaboratively across cultural boundaries is growing exponentially in importance.” Schools are challenged to incorporate these skills into traditional content learning. The article gives examples of how some schools have approached this challenge with curriculum and teacher training. And it is clear to me that money and resources will need to be infused into the system to bring technology tools up to the standard necessary for imparting the learning. The schools are going to have to meet this challenge, as administrators are considering adding applied knowledge testing to existing standardized state tests.

The article includes this interesting table about what “creativity” means to employers and businesses and to educators. Take a look and consider your own definition of the term. We all agree we need it, but how best to define and attain are the crux of the problem:


SOURCE: Christian Science Monitor and ‘Ready to Innovate,’ a report sponsored by the Conference Board, Americans for the Arts, and the American Association of School Administrators/Rich Clabaugh/STAFF

Schools tap ’21st-century skills’ |

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