Creating Globally Competitive 22nd Century Learners

In the current issue of District Administrator, Alfie Kohn writes that 21st century skills just aren’t good enough any more.

He warns that our adversaries (ie. “people in other countries”) are on to us and we must immediately move on to… 22nd century education.

What does that phrase mean? How can we possibly know what skills will be needed so far in the future? Such challenges from skeptics — the same kind of people who ask annoying questions about other cutting-edge ideas, including “brain-based education” — are to be expected. But if we’re confident enough to describe what education should be like throughout the 21st century — that is, what will be needed over the next 90 years or so — it’s not much of a stretch to reach a few decades beyond that.

He’s kidding (I’m pretty sure).

However, there’s nothing funny about the cliche-ridden approach to our current discussion of school reform that Kohn is skewering.

Raising the Degree of Difficulty

The anticipation of President Obama may bring hope to many but following last Tuesday’s election, the world of satirical comedy is in mourning.

“Let’s face it,” admitted Late Show host David Letterman, “George W. Bush was comedic welfare. None of us really had to work very hard. Hell, our writers would often just send me links to The New York Times and then hit the peep shows. McCain and Palin, as a team, would’ve kept those comedy welfare checks flowing. But the gravy train is over now. And, you know, Bush is gone in January.”

Of course, Dave and the Daily Show still have excellent writers and they still have a wide world of stupid to work with.

Not to mention CNN holograms, Chris Matthews, and the idiots on Fox and Friends.

Little Faith in Air Travel

One of great things about vacations is that you get to read non work-related stuff, or at least read it with less guilt.

For this trip, one book in the definitely non work-related category is Lewis Black’s Me of Little Faith.

And not long after writing the earlier post about my experience with our crappy air transportation system, I arrived at Black’s chapter on the same topic.

As I was writing this book, I found myself at the Newark airport getting ready to fly from New York to Chapel Hill. It was the beginning of June and newspapers were already screaming that it was going to be the worst summer to travel in recorded history. This followed the previous summer, which was then the worst summer on record to travel. If you know something is going to go wrong and you know why something is going to go wrong and you’ve already suffered the pain and trauma of it going wrong, wouldn’t you make a profoundly concerted effort to avoid it happening again?

The rest of the essay is very funny as he relates the details of his trip and expands on the general topic of what’s wrong with the system.

I’d add a few more quotes here but Black freely uses language that is inappropriate for a PG rated blog, although incredibly appropriate for this particular topic.

Incidentally, if you are a Lewis Black fan, this is an excellent book in which he offers some very pointed (not to mention hilarious) observations on religion in society. You can almost hear him ranting in his uniquely neurotic style.

If you’re not a Black fan, you’re missing one of the best commentators on modern life working today.