Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Assessing 21st Century skills

This is a schizophrenic post, because I see both sides of this issue. One one hand,this article by Scott McCleod is a great resource for finding out about the current set of 21st century skill assessments. I like the authentic nature of some of the tasks that they require and agree that knowing how to use media is useful in the 21st century.

On the other hand, the described goal of 21st century learning as, "to prepare students who can be productive citizens in the new technology-suffused, globally-interconnected economy" always leaves me wanting. Let's not even get into the fact that so many kids are lacking the basic skills necessary to craft a boolean search. I always have a little part of me that wonders if creating little economically productive units should be the "end of education". Shouldn't the goal be a little more lofty? Shouldn't it read a little more like Neil Postman's "learning how to make a life, not make a living?"

What do you think?

Jim :-)


Scott McLeod said...

Jim, I'm with you all the way. But as we know, "learning how to make a life, not make a living" also entail figuring out how to pay the rent. Whether we like it or not, people don't go to school for the purity of learning. Most of them also want to get a good job that interests them and pays the bills. My intent in using the word "economy" is not to say that's the sole purpose of schooling but that it's an awfully important consideration.

Jim Forde said...

Fair enough, as I said, I was a bit torn there. Yes...paying bills is a good thing. (as well as helping to pay for the social security of others!)

I just wonder sometimes if we don't get too enamored with the current set of tech tools and societally identified skills and forget that a generally liberal education that prepares kids to think and be creative and love learning is the real remedy we need for an unpredictable future. One of the things I was reminded of in the book "The World is Flat" is that creating great original ideas is what America does best. It hasn't let us down.

I will admit that the two do not need to be mutually exclusive.

Thanks man...jim :-)