You're encouraged to join and participate in what I hope will be an on-going conversation. Your participation will make this effort a much more worthwhile endeavor. Be sure to click on the "Comments" tab below to read what others have written in response. I look forward to hearing more from you.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

How Accurate Is This 20/20 Vision?

So, in the short life this blog has had thus far (almost a month old), there have been four posts (this counts five) and over 1350 page views, the latter a pleasant surprise, but the written response of participants in what is designed to be a public discussion has been sparse.  Still,  blog life will go on with the hope that more voices will be heard in this space.  And this post is a continuation on the theme of education in the 21st century.

In a recently published book entitled 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times, authors Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel (Co-Chairs of the Standards, Assessment, and Professional Development Committee of the Partnership for 21st Century Schools) offer up suggestions for schools in a world that has clearly seen fundamental change.  This shift has been so dramatic in the past few decades that "the roles of learning and education in day-to-day living have also changed forever."  Skills like critical thinking and problem-solving that have been highly valued for years may be even more relevant today, but the authors contend that what has changed in this 21st century is the manner in which these precious skills are learned and practiced in everyday life.  Some new skills (not even imagined several years ago), like digital literacy, are also required in order to compete successfully in a global world that - with expanding technology - grows smaller (and moves faster) with each passing day.

Trilling and Fadel begin early on to construct their argument - that schools must adapt to this fundamental shift in the roles of learning and education in everday life - by posing four questions, imagining that the reader has a child, grandchild, nephew, niece, or friend (you get the idea) who has just entered kindergarten this year.  Here are the questions:

1)  What will the world be like twenty years or so from now when your child has left school and is out in the real world?  (I think of what life was like even ten years ago, when email first entered our lives, and never did I ever imagine I'd be writing in this medium.  Words like "blogging", "emailing", and "google it" are now common words in our language, and "text" - once used often to refer to books - has obviously assumed a much different meaning in the con-text of what kids "read" today).

2)  What skills will your child need to be successful in this world you have imagined twenty years from now?  (There are things we know that we know, things we think we know but don't, things we think we don't know but really do - "oh yeah, I know that" - things we know we don't know, and there are things we don't even know we don't know.  It's this last point that I think of when contemplating question #2).

3)  This next question involves the reader's personal experience when Trilling and Fadel ask the reader to think about their "own personal peak experiences" in life.  What were the conditions that made your high-performance learning experiences so powerful?

4)  Taking into consideration your answers to the first three questions, consider this last one - What would learning be like if it were designed around your answers to the first three questions?  The authors wonder if your answer would be "more in tune with the demands of our times and the needs of today's students."

Seriously, take a few minutes to reflect upon these questions.  It's clear the world has changed in fundamental ways, and a vision of the college  in 2020 that reflects this change was offered in a previous blog post.  It's also clear that we need 20/20 vision as we look ahead to predict what more will change in our lives.  What would your answers look like? Would you be willing to share them?  This isn't a multiple choice test?  And there isn't one right answer.  Rather, there are many.  Trilling and Fadel offer their answers in the book.  

What are yours?

No comments:

Post a Comment