Do we really need another study with the conclusion that American schools are doing a bad job?
Well in this case, I may have to agree with at least some of their findings.
If students are to succeed in today’s complex economy, they need to know more than just English, math, science, and history. They also need a range of analytic and workplace skills. So says an important new report on 21st-century skills, which concludes that though Massachusetts schools have made impressive progress in the last 15 years, many students still don’t graduate with the abilities today’s jobs require.
Further, according to a recent study by the Massachusetts Business Alliance for Education, state employers say high school graduates lack essential job skills.
Mastering those skills means learning how to think critically and creatively, work collaboratively, use the Internet to do research, and communicate clearly and effectively. Students also need to be responsible and accountable, to be up on the news, and to have a workable knowledge of economics and business.
So, how much of this do we really teach in most schools today? Around here, we are very much stuck in the 20th century.
I could quibble with a few of the points from the study outlined in this article (for one thing, training every student for the exclusive needs of business seems like a very narrow focus).
However, if we really want to address these “21st-century skills”, it’s going to take more than just rewriting the curriculum and retraining teachers.
We also need to change our basic perceptions of what it means to be “well educated” and how a person gets there.
BTW, how far into the 21st century are we going to discuss teaching 21st century skills until we actually do it? Or switch to calling them 22nd century skills?