Lots of talk in recent years of the new essential skills to survive in the 21st century economy. Tony Wagner’s book The Global Achievement Gap- why even our best schools don’t teach the survival skills our children need and what we can do about it has received lots of attention. See this summary to review a list of the usual suspects.
Here’s an additional point of view from Andrew J. Rotherham: 21st-Century Skills Are Not a New Education Trend but Could Be a Fad Rotherham punctures some of the hype and froth in the debate including the false dichotomy between the teaching of traditional content and the teaching of new skills.
Wagner’s book is an important contribution to the educational debate. All children deserve a quality education where these skills are taught and developed in the context of a content-rich and interconnected curriculum.
You can’t think thinking. You can’t problem solve problem solving. There has to be meaningful content and the skills taught need context.
Information matters. How we think about and create and communicate information matters too. Good schools have always known this. Maybe the change we need is to be more deliberate about teaching. To open up the dialogue around content-rich curriculum to balance that content with our metacognitive intentions. And include students in the debate – let them in on the thinking.
Respect for children – their minds, their capabilites and their futures – in the end, that is what it is all about.