Thursday, December 18, 2008

21st-Century Skills Are Not a New Education Trend but Could Be a Fad

From the December 15 issue of US News & World Report: Critical thinking and problem solving, for example, have been a component of human progress throughout history, from early tools and agricultural advancements to gunpowder, vaccinations, or exploration. And while "global awareness" has historically been as much a martial talent as an economic one, interconnectedness is not new nor is information literacy among elites. Likewise, the idea that there is a hierarchy of knowledge from facts to complex analysis is not a new one. Plato, for example, wrote about four distinct levels of intellect. Perhaps these were considered "3rd-century B.C. skills"?

What's new today is the degree to which economic competitiveness and educational equity mean these skills can no longer be the province of the few. This distinction is not a mere debating point. It has important implications for how schools approach teaching, curriculum, and content.

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