Our assignment this week was to review the website: Partnership for 21st Century Skills. It was an eye-opening experience. In a course on web technology, it is easy to get caught up in the need...or desire...for our students to have access to Web 2.0 tools such as blogs, wikis, and podcasts. In particular, it was the explanation of the framework for learning in the 21st century that turned on the light bulb! It suddenly dawned on me that the skills that our students need to succeed in the 21st century have nothing to do with blogging, texting, podcasting, networking, or creating electronic presentations. They are the same skills that I address in my personal mission statement:
It is my responsibility to help my students become independent thinkers and responsible, ethical citizens of their school, community, and world. I will provide them the opportunity to develop the skills they need to be successful in school and in life. I will model a love of learning, respect for differing opinions, compassion for others, and a desire to make the world a better place for those who come after me.
If I gained nothing else from the website, that would have been enough. I did find it interesting, but not surprising, that South Carolina is not listed under State Initiatives. However, I was surprised when I saw the list of Board members. Fortune 100 companies are members of this partnership and, until this assignment, I had never heard of it. The surprise was a pleasant one, though, as I am grateful for their participation in advocating the importance of ensuring our students become "effective citizens, workers, and leaders in the 21st century" (FAQ: What is the Partnership?).
Tomorrow, I will be accompanying my eighth grade students on a field trip to two local colleges: a two-year technical college and a four-year university. In preparation for this trip, we watched some videos on "21st century careers" that I found through a school resource. So many of the 'typical' careers in which my students are interested have changed drastically in recent years. As a Math teacher, I was happy that the importance of a good background in mathematics was stressed for jobs such as automotive mechanics. Most of my students who are not planning to attend college think that they can just walk into a decent job because they know how to work on cars. The videos addressed the competition that exists for such jobs and the fact that formally-trained candidates are more likely to be hired. I don't know if the students were happy to hear this, but they certainly needed to hear it!
After this trip, we will discuss their questions and observations about the schools we visited. As part of the discussion, I will show them this website and guide their conversations towards what they really need to accomplish their goals. By making them more aware of how the world has changed since their parents were in high school, I hope they see the importance of "preparing for the game". As the saying goes: The only constant is change!