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Educating for the 21st Century

March 1, 2008

Because I am part of the very active edublogger community, I sometimes have a false sense of security about what is happening in education. Every so often, though, I talk to a teacher, or even, as I did this morning, a tech professional, and am startled at the gaps in knowledge about our new communication technology. Web 2.0, or its new name, “social media” is both useful and easy, but many people don’t know the possibilities it offers for family, non-profit organizations, education, and business, – although some business are beginning to see how valuable it is.

While on Twitter, I clicked on a link and found myself reading a Time/CNN article called How to Bring Our Schools Out of the 20th Century. I see it as essential reading for all teachers and educators and all parents of school-age children. Claudia Wallis and Sonja Steptoe, the authors, speak out about what is needed for our kids and our continent to succeed, and why change is so necessary. Then they describe some innovative programs in 21st Century-oriented schools.

What our Students Need for the 21st Century

  • “Knowing more about the world. Kids are global citizens now”
  • “Thinking outside the box. Jobs in the new economy–the ones that won’t get outsourced or automated–‘put an enormous premium on creative and innovative skills, seeing patterns where other people see only chaos,'”
  • “Becoming smarter about new sources of information. In an age of overflowing information and proliferating media, kids need to rapidly process what’s coming at them and distinguish between what’s reliable and what isn’t.”
  • “Developing good people skills. EQ, or emotional intelligence, is as important as IQ for success in today’s workplace.”

Here’s what schooling could look like –

I was lucky enough to be forced into the 21st Century communications technology. At one point in my career, in the previous century ;-> I was told to teach the basics of using a word-processor and how to set up a filing system on a computer, as part of a Communications course I was assigned. I panicked, but I was also resourceful. I went to some friends who knew computers and asked for help, and I bought books that looked like ones I could learn from. (Usually the “Dummies” variety ;->) I also joined a committee where we planned and did P.D. for other non-computer teachers who were trying to learn how to use computers for teaching and learning. (I figured they must know lots about edutech, and I could learn from them!) In other words, I created a learning community for myself. I both learned and had fun.

I mention this because it’s much easier to find a learning community now with all the social media aimed at teachers. I set up this blog to be part of teachers’ learning communities, and I bring what I’ve learned about the social media here to share. One final connection from this article, which I hope you’ll read in full, a site set up to make life easier for teachers and parents –

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