Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Learning For Life in Our Times - Get on with it!

I have just finished reading 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times by Trilling & Fadel.


The book presents a framework of key skills and competencies for teaching and learning in schools that meet the needs of the 21st century.




Some the Key Skills and Competencies include: 
  • CORE SUBJECTS (English, World languages, Arts, Mathematics, Science,  History, Government and Civics) 
  • CREATIVITY AND INNOVATION 
  • CRITICAL THINKING AND PROBLEM SOLVING Reason Effectively Systems Thinking 
  • INFORMATION, MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY SKILLS
  • INFORMATION LITERACY
  • MEDIA LITERACY
  • ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) LITERACY
  • LIFE AND CAREER SKILLS (FLEXIBILITY AND ADAPTABILITY, INITIATIVE AND SELF-DIRECTION, etc) 
For a  more detailed description you can see this: P21 Framework 

I  enjoyed reading about the key elements of the framework and particularly enjoyed  the latter half of the book - where the authors emphasize and illustrate real changes happening in schools today.   

In its practical application, 21st Century skills require students to be engaged in Project, Problem, Design or Inquiry Based Learning  - where the teacher is more of a learning coach (not just a content transmitter) and the students are drivers of their own learning - usually by solving complex, real-world problems . 

The authors also comment on such items such as assessments, curriculum, teacher professional development and innovative learning spaces.


One particular area of reform that I see as essential and potentially providing an  "ah ha" moment  for all stakeholders is in the area curriculum reform.  Like I've written before, the authors stress that it is time to get away from a "mile wide and an inch thick" model of curriculum -  established to satisfy a "teach to the test" system.  Instead, the authors advocate for curricula that have a have a" few big ideas that have real world relevance" and have students hone some essential skills (see above)


Overall the authors provide a clear and convincing vision for 21st century learning.


Here a few personal questions and thoughts moving forward:
  • We need to get to our preferred future sooner rather than later.
  • We all know of "pockets of innovation and excellence" in our schools and school systems.   As school leaders we need to find ways to have these "pockets" of best practice envelope our respective school cultures.  This can only be done by authentic and respectful  collaboration and dialogue.   In this regard, social media can exponentially increase a teachers PLN and deal and crippling blow to teacher isolation, apprehension and fear.
  • As individual schools we need to "push the envelope".  Rather than waiting for the system to change, perhaps our actions can shape the system. 
  • As  a secondary school principal,  I see a need to include leaders of post secondary institutions as partners in our efforts to reform and improve our system.    
Let"s get on with it already.....




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