I promised yesterday that I would comment on the recent Time magazine articles that have commented on education and the participatory Internet. The cover story of the Dec. 18 Time addresses the question How to Build a Student for the 21st Century?
The summary -
Today’s economy demands not only a high-level competence in the traditional academic disciplines, but also what might be called 21st century skills.
The article presents a view that should be familiar to educators who attend national conferences or follow many education bloggers. Actually, Friedman’s The World is Flat presents what I would regard as a similar and more comprehensive analysis of many of the same issues (Friedman’s work is mentioned). US students will need to acquire an expanded set of skills to compete in a flat world – greater awareness of the world including a commitment to other languages, higher order thinking skills, the capacity to use information more efficiently and more wisely, improved skills in cooperative processes, etc.
The article references a new report – Tough Choices For Tough Times – that provides the summary of a new panel offering advice on a new direction for K-12 education. My copy is on order. I hope the corporate leaders and politicians who feel empowered to set such an agenda also have answers for what should be related funding questions. I assume the Department of Education association with this report will assure an extended conversation of the findings.
The authors do acknowledge what I think is a core question when reform recommendations are advanced? How are educators supposed to meet existing expectations (e.g., NCLB) for core knowledge and take on a new array of expectations? The answer seems to be “focus” – teach core concepts and forget the details. I have encountered this idea – depth vs. breadth – in reviewing analyses of international TIMMS data. If I remember the argument, other countries who seem to score better tend to focus on fewer objectives. US schools tend to both focus on many objectives and spend a considerable time each year reviewing objectives taught in previous years.
Andy Carvin take on the Time article.
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