It’s pretty clear that American education, especially high school, needs a major overhaul. A recent report by a group called The Partnership for 21st Century Skills starts out in the right direction but doesn’t go nearly far enough.
The authors lay out four key areas of study which they call "critical for every child’s success as a worker and citizen".
The concept of Global Awareness acknowledges that students need a deeper understanding of the thinking, motivations, and actions of different cultures and countries in order to successfully navigate and respond to communities and workplaces extending beyond their neighborhoods.
The concept of Civic Engagement recognizes that students need to understand, analyze, and participate in government and in community, both globally and locally, in order to shape the circumstances that impact their daily lives.
The concept of Financial, Economic and Business Literacy responds to the growing demand on people to understand business processes, entrepreneurial spirit, and the economic forces that drive today’s economy.
The concept of Learning Skills acknowledges the need for students to think critically, analyze information, comprehend new ideas, communicate, collaborate, solve problems, and make decisions, while ICT Literacy recognizes that technology is essential to realizing these learning skills in today’s knowledge economy.
Wow! I was all set to climb on board with this group. Unfortunately, the writers of this report are primarily interested in how to assess those skills rather than how to refocus the education system to emphasize these concepts.
Why bother trying to test for learning in these areas when most schools don’t come anywhere close to teaching them to any but a select few students?