As a master’s program student of Walden University course 6710, Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society, this week I was required to review the website, Partnership for 21st Century Skills.
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is an organization that was established in 2002. Their mission is to “Serve as a catalyst to position 21st century skills at the center of US K-12 education by building collaborative partnerships among education, business, community, and government leaders.” (Partnership for 21st Century Skills, 2004) It was impressive to see over 230 business organizations involved in this organization. As I continued through the site to explore what this organization is capable of, I found an excellent resource in the Route 21 link. Route 21 is a free, online, interactive tool that is sponsored by The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Its purpose is to provide tools and resources to facilitate the use of 21st century skills in education. Over 6500 members have the ability to browse, as well as, contribute to the resources available for educators committed to making a change in their schools. The over 200 video resources, Route 21 Snapshots, available through George Lucas Educational Foundation’s Edutopia, gave examples of 21st century skills being taught in the classroom. Their annually published MILE guide, which included a self assessment tool for districts that are involved in this program, is a good resource of strategies for teachers. It also gives the district a method of evaluating their progress as a district involved in Partnership for 21st Century Skills.
As I delved deeper into the program I began to ask more critical questions of the program. Where are the specifics for the framework? An additional concern that I have is, why is it that in seven years only fourteen states have embraced this program as something of value? Input from researchers in the field of education along with the voices of educators and corporate America have established that there is definitely a need for change. My concern is that The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is based on a great deal of theory with little research to support participation in their program. When searching for research studies on the program’s success, I found websites and several blogs opposing this program. The main argument of those that oppose the program is a fear that core curriculum will be lost or “dumbed down”. The website Common Core gave valid points and had several blogs to interact with on the topic as well as many news links on the topic. In addition to the Common Core website, I found many blogs opposing the Partnership for 21st Century Skills program. Daniel Willingham, the author of Why Don’t Students Like School? A Cognitive Scientist Answers Questions About How the Mind Works and What It Means for the Classroom, , has a blog with topics on education, one of them being, Flawed Assumptions Undergird the Program at the Partnership for 21st-Century Skills.
As an educator that is in full support of 21st Century Skills being a critical component of the classroom of today, I am still not sold on the program offered by Partnership for 21st Century Skills. I am not, by any means, opposing The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. I am just not convinced of its value just yet. I am in full support of improving the, all too lacking, critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, and creativity of our students, but the last thing that I am interested in, is indulging in a new found idea in education. Most individuals involved in education are leery of new, unproven programs, therefore making them apprehensive when it comes to implementing new ideas. Good educators work too hard to meet expectations. Time is precious, and good educators do not have it to waste on unproven programs.
Common Core (February, 2009). Debating “21st Century Skills”, retrieved from http://www.commoncore.org/p21.php
Edutopia (2009). Edutopia The George Lucas Educational Foundation, retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2009). The MILE Guide: Milestones for Improving Learning and Education, retrieved from http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/documents/MILE_Guide_091101.pdf
Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2004). Partnership for 21st Century Skills, retrieved from http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/
Route 21(2007). Route 21, retrieved from http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/route21/index.php
Route 21 (2007). Route 21 Snapshots, retrieved from http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/route21/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=92&Itemid=163
Willingham, D. (March, 2009). Flawed Assumptions Undergird the Program at the Partnership for 21st-Century Skills, retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/blogs/2009/03/flawed-assumptions-undergird-the-partnership-for-21st-century-skills-movement-in-education/