Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Journal entry 8: 21st Century Skills ...

Journal entry 8: 21st Century Skills and how Superintendents and CEO's differ


Khadaroo, S.T. Schools tap '21st-century skills'. (2009, Jan. 9). Christian Science Monitor.

This article is from the Christian Science Monitor on-line. There is much use of the words and phrase "21st Century Skills" in education today. This article gives a pretty good working definition of these skills. Sure, they are reading, writing and arithmetic but they are more than that. How do students use reading, writing and arithmetic to solve real-world problems that make them an attractive employee in a global market for jobs that may not yet have been created. That is the gist of the ideas behind 21st Century Skills. This article goes on to say that it is possible to integrate 21st Century Skills into the core curriculum. Historically, the American Public Education System has had difficulties in applying real-world problem solving into its curriculum. This study also mentions P.I.S.A., which is the Programme of International Student Assessment. P.I.S.A. assesses how students perform educationally, in the areas of math and science, on a global scale. P.I.S.A. compares developed countries. America continues to be at the bottom of the list. Ken Kay, president of
the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, states that the American Education system must believe that all students can think critically and problem-solve. According to Ken Kay, for a system where teachers assess, and believe that all students can learn and problem-solve all teaching, curriculum and assessment must be aligned to this goal. To meet this goal some states are creating mentoring programs that partner students with real-world employees related to the field of work that the student will be working in the future. These mentors and students work together to solve real-world problems. Other states are revamping their teacher preparation programs or are providing intensive professional development for teachers who are already in the field. Some of this professional development is offered by companies like Oracle or Intel.

The interesting thing about this article is the idea of how Superintendents and CEO's differ on what they see as important skills high school graduates need to have to be competitive in today's global market. Two differences stick out to me. The first difference that sticks out to me is the idea of "problem identification or articulation." Business/employers felt that this ability was only very slightly important but Superintendents felt that it was very important. The next big difference that sticks out to me is the idea of "problem solving." Business/employers felt that this is very important for high school graduates to be able to do but Superintendents felt that this was low on their priority on importance.

This article does little to actually analyze the chart/graph at the top about the differences in perceptions of 21st Century Skills. The chart compares Superintendents and Business/employees and what they perceived as critical 21st Century Skills. I also find a flaw in the chart/graph. I find that the ideas of "comfort with the notion of 'no right answer'" and "tolerance of ambiguity" to be extremely related.

There is another area in which I disagree with the article. This article seems to put an emphasis on "computer literacies" and 21st Century Skills and the need to upgrade computers. I disagree with the need to upgrade computers. I am not saying that teachers never need to upgrade their computers. I believe that teachers do need upgrades and some training on how to make their computers run more efficiently. 21st Century Skills and computer literacy has never been about equipment, operating system or even being able to navigate word processing programs that might, at the time, be the industry standard. Computer literacies fit mainly, but can fit in other areas, into Communication and Information Technology, which is just on part of the 21st Century Skills framework. So often, people confuse, or put in a box that is easy to comprehend, the idea that 21st Century Skills are basically technology skills and that is totally not true. Everyone should check out Ken Kay's website 21stcenturyskills.org to get a better understanding of 21st Century Skills