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Skills for the Next Century February 6, 2006

Posted by Michael McVey in Information, Lifelong Learning.
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amy As you may recall, last week I participated in the Twenty-first Century Skills Committee at Catalina Foothills School District. The campus of Esperero Canyon Junior High School is unparalleled. It is a beautiful building set against the Pusch Ridge north of Tucson.

Invited participants included several administrators, teachers, students from the high school, a reporter, a few professors, a network administrator, a pilot for Southwest airlines, parents, and a few researchers. When you get that many people together to brainstorm, it is a matter of tossing everything into the pot in a controlled manner then looking for trends that are emerging.

esperero
Esperero Canyon Junior High

The question at hand was “What are the skills and knowledge students in the twenty-first century will need?? We divided into four groups, brainstormed, recorded, then ranked our output. In a few weeks we will have a chance to see what trends emerged from the other groups. Of course, we each had a little axe to grind which we brought to the brainstorming session. We were not asked to argue for our particular skill set, which was a good thing or I think some of us would still be there. It was an opportunity to set up the parameters for a future discussion.

The only surprise in the collection of ideas, was just how valued “personal health awareness? was in our list. It was generally understood that to be a healthy learner you had to have a healthy body and a good sense of what a bad health choice was. Of course, in addition to the stress on learning keyboarding and other essential technology tools, it was generally understood that technology can play an important role in collaboration. We did not have time to flesh that one out, but I am sure we will.

At some point, I am going to try to explain my position about changing the existing culture in a school so that new doors can be opened and teachers will be able to recognize the twenty-first century skills when they make themselves apparent. I did notice some talk about parceling out the skills. It looks like we may have forgotten that integration is still an excellent way to accomplish the learning of some complicated sets of skills.

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