The Partnership for 21st Century Skills has established an informative website that focuses on 21st century readiness skills for our students. My initial reaction to the site was disbelief. Without the requirement to visit this website, I feel as though I may have never uncovered such a valuable resource. I am left to wonder if I am preparing my students for future work environments as efficiently as I should. As I browse through the headings, the importance of this site and the development of essential 21st century skills become more evident.
Being an educator today carries with it more expectations for the development of our students. Dr. Dede discussed how problems today are much more complicated and it takes a group of people with specialties in multiple areas to devise complete answers (Laureate, 2010). The problem that is seen throughout education is the levels at which our students are entering the workplace. They are not equipped with skills that will allow them to adapt to changes that are being made, especially in technology. Many times the understanding behind education is that if a student can read, write and be proficient in math, then they will be successful in the workplace. The news from this website taught me otherwise. The core subjects are still a necessary part of education, but the 21st century skills are focused toward developing a well rounded person. I was surprised at the inclusion of learning, thinking, and life skills. I was amazed that global awareness and health and wellness were included as significant areas critical to success of our students. As an educator in Illinois, I discovered that the Illinois State Board of Education is currently working to revise state assessments to include 21st century readiness. With that in mind, it is essential for me to look at my current practices in the classroom, and develop methods that will increase these skills in all of my students.
Although I agree that our students need to be ready for the workplace and to be citizens in their community, I disagree with the statement that “a profound gap exists between the knowledge and skills most students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need for success in their communities and workplaces” (http://www.p21.org/). I would like to think that I could speak for all teachers when I say that our goal in education is to prepare our students for life after graduation to the best of our abilities. Personally, I work hard to implement lessons that do more than just teach the concept of science. Implementing group activities teaches our students to work in teams as they would in the workplace. Presentations in class increase communication skills. The inclusion of real world events and class work that incorporates critical thinking is something that is performed repeatedly. I feel that teachers are doing what they can, with the resources they have been provided, to prepare their students for the real world.
Another disagreement I have in regards to this site deals with high school reform. A statement is made that America is struggling “to make high school education rigorous, meaningful and relevant once again” (http://www.p21.org/). It gets frustrating to feel as though it is always the fault of a teacher when a student does not succeed. I teach many of the 21st century skills that Dr. Thornburg discussed (Laureate, 2010). At some point, the student has to be held accountable for how they choose to use these skills. With that being said, I continue to educate myself on new ways to present required information as well as the lifelong skills that have been discussed.
The implication for me as an educator is that there are many skills that I am not preparing my students with. The implication for my students is that they will fail in the workplace if teachers do not fuse the three Rs and four Cs. I feel that as educators we are working to complete these tasks. I am thankful for the online resources that Partnership for 21st Century Skills provides on their website and look forward to improving my classroom with techniques provided by other educators.
Laureate Education, Inc. (Producer). (2010). Program number 11: Skills for the 21st century. [DVD]. Understanding the impact of technology on education, work, and society. Baltimore, MD: Author.
Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2004). Retrieved January 26, 2011 from http://www.p21.org/.