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New Century; New Skills February 2, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Lifelong Learning, Literacy.
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21st   It was a good morning since I was able to remove four versions of the STINX Trojan from one computer, got the machine back on the network, installed anti-spyware (because I did not trust the user to do it herself), and clean out the registry. That whole operation took about an hour. If that happened with any great frequency than once a day, it would take a real bite out of my schedule.

Today I am traveling to Catalina Foothills School District to be a part of their Advisory Committee on Twenty-first Century Learning. While waiting for the computer to disinfect, I read the small stack of materials the Assistant Superintendent sent me. One of the articles contained an interesting chart from enGauge Twenty-first Century Skills. I will add a link to a good version of the chart when I can. 

What strikes me as interesting about the chart, and I realize it is just an overview, is that schools can rally for Effective Communication and Inventive Thinking and so forth and spell out what it means to be inventive or communicative, but these sort of movements seem to stop there. The real issue for administrators who really believe in Twenty-first Century Skills is that it is a matter a changing an intractable culture in schools. I have attended in-service workshops where scientists have discussed brain based teaching then demonstrated incontrovertible evidence showing improved learning from certain techniques. Immediately after the workshop, I have heard the same teachers toss the entire set of concepts out the window calling them “new age? or “ridiculous.?

Today we will hear from Ken Kay about the benefits of this skill set in the Twenty-first Century, but my concern is going to be the challenge of getting teachers to recognize inventive thinking when they see it. I want teachers to be able not only to use the new tools of communications in their classroom, but also to use them in their personal and professional lives. The best teachers, I have found, are constantly learning new things.

Teachers and administrators should be encouraging students to interact with others around the world, the tools are available and the support is there. I am concerned that teachers are feeling so locked into test preparation, annual yearly progress, and addressing standards in ways administrators can see they are addressing them, that so much of this drive to develop new skill sets will simply evaporate.

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