I had a conversation with a teacher the other day. She was taking a graduate course on literacy in the digital media age, and had been, as part of the class, introduced to the framework for 21st century skills from the Partnership for 21st century Skills. The framework has been adopted by the state governor, school board, and department of education for this teachers state — one of the first states to adopt the program. However, she said that when a poster of the framework was recently given out at a faculty meeting at her school, she was the only teacher who had ever heard of it. She also said that nothing more was said about the initiative by the administrator who was leading the meeting.
Of course the problem is not the teachers, though they should be aware of progressive initiatives happening in education. The problem is not the administrator, who learned about the initiative as only one of a string of issues on the agenda of the leadership meeting where she received the bundle of posters, though she, too, should be aware of emerging issues.
The problem is — well there are lots of problems. And there are lots, lots, lots, of things we’re doing right. I guess that the problem is an institution that has been allowed and even encouraged to maintain a culture of work and expectations that were entirely appropriate for a highly successful industrial society that rested on an economic high, unconcerned by a creeping but accelerating flatness.
But a new century, a new global economy, a new environment of personal power, and a new information and media landscape demand a new culture and even definition for education and being educated.
So here’s your assignment for the day.
- How would you define the 21st century teacher?
- How would you define the 21st century classroom?
- How would you define the 21st century student?
Nwar, Ryun. “Quintessential Kindergarten Teacher.” Orionoir’s Photostream. 22 Sep 2007. 3 Oct 2007 <http://flickr.com/photos/orionoir/1425775282/>.