Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Evaluating 21st Century Skills

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” ( 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” (  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


  1. I am also in disbelief 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.” It is my hope that teachers, even years ago, were doing their utmost to best prepare students for life after graduation and were aiming for them to succeed at more than just the 3R’s of reading, writing, and arithmetic. I feel more credit needs to be given to what numerous teachers have already been striving to do for a long time now. Teaching the core subjects and foundational skills is something that has been around since the beginning of education. However, so have the competencies of following directions, teamwork, participation, organization, responsibility, and so forth.

    I think the main focus of 21st century skills should mainly encompass technology, since it is without a doubt becoming more and more prevalent in society and more and more of a requirement for success in the workforce. If teachers aren’t already striving for their students to succeed in the rest of the areas, than the problem lies with the educator itself, not the system, because like you mentioned, many teachers are already working hard to teach more than just the basics. Group work teaches collaboration & teamwork skills, presentations aid in communication, and real-world applications allow for creative thinking and problem solving skills. As educators we should continue to aim higher and always make every effort to better prepare our students with these essential skills, however for many it also means continuing with the current practices. Reflecting and making changes along the way is a sure-fire way to ensure both teachers and students are on the road to becoming lifelong learners.

  2. The piece I just read reinforced some of the views I had about P21 century site. The site is wonderful, the information is rich in content and the intent is clear: To equip not even only student but everybody who likes to be relevant in the 21st century economy, with the 21st century skills that they need to function very effectively. However I believe that the group did not acknowledge that the frontline workers, e.g., teachers, policy makers, other stake holders are also aiming at the same thing, but doing so in their own best possible ways that they know about. As mentioned by (Thornburgh, 2010) the professor who invented the black board did it in order to allow students to learn and see the something all at once, eventually smart board evolved, but we still use black board till today! In order to support and ensure the teaching and learning of the 21st century skills, educators need more support, funding, and resources that will enable them become the ideal group that can prepare students for life after graduation.
    One good implication of P21 century site is the huge attention it brought to the issues of 21st century skills vis-à-vis the preparedness of the education sector to effectively equips students with these skills.
    I also like to mention that the publicity about this site is inadequate. If I had not enrolled in this course, I will probably not find out about the site, whereas the issues of 21st century skills are global in nature, perhaps, one suggestion for the 21st group founding fathers is to extend the initiative to a global scale, include more countries and invite more experts!

  3. Why isn't thi site more well known? It is a great place to find resources as well as the protocal for hat is expected concerning technology in education today. I agree that there comes a point when students themselves and their parents need to be held accountable for a student's success. Teachers do the best that they can with what they have. Unfortunately, the funds and resources we have in education today is not sufficient. It shocked me when I read that our students are spending 27 hours a week online at home, compared to an average of 15 minutes per week at school. It’s hard to develop online skills in traditional classrooms when so little instructional time is online(Miners & Pascopella, 2007). How are we supposed to compete in the world market with numbers like that?

    I spent two months teaching Health and History to both Middle and High School age student in a borough north of London. It was a great eye-opening experience as an American and as a teacher to see first hand how the U.S. ranks in academic performance. It was embarrassing to see how much more advanced these U.K. students were academically and how much more knowledge and know-how they had when using technology. On a global scale, we, the United States is falling behind and it is our job to teach our students the skills that they will need to succeed. Some of the skills including critical thinking, problem-solving, communication, collaboration, and leadership are skills that can be taught and challenged even without technology. We will have to do the best we can until our schools' cyber infrastructure catches up.