21st Century Learning/Skills are all the rage. But what's the 21st-centuryness of it all?
It seems that the only 21st century aspect (if you could even call it that) is the recognition that ICT is more present now than in say the 19th century. Well, dah... But so what? How many schools can really claim to educate a young person in this world about ICT? They might be able to teach them computer science (but that's not the same thing).
The most pervasive technology for younger people is mobile devices; but most schools' policies ban these devices! How are they going to claim any 21st centuryness if they ban technology usage in schools??
The skills required to find information and filter it; create insight based on knowledge gathered/gained; and then persuasively communicate these insights and point of view to others is a core set of skills common to any century. I wrote about this a while back, and coined a name that I think has legs - the Edutanic when talking about our current education system.
The late 20th and 21st century have, I think posed a greater challenge to educators and policy-makers. The Internet has taken away one source of power educators had (as historic gatekeepers to information); and modern communications has taken away any shelter the policy-makers had from vested parents. But for the students, its business as usual - why? Because they've grown up with it.
As I wrote in the Edutanic, when asked what made a hockey player great, Wayne Greztky said - "a good player skates to where the puck is, a great player skates to where the puck will be."
Our children should be taught within a system where that six-year-olds are entering, knows where the puck will be when they're 18, and teaches them those things that will be relevant at that time. That's our challenge. But it's very hard to successfully predict that, and building the dynamic teacher professional development machine it would take to teach our teachers appears impossible.
So why not focus instead on preparing our children for any future and every future? It is these core fundamentals that will prevail in any time.
Let's replace 21st century skills with Timeless Skills. Imagine knowing that your children are going to school to develop themselves into adults that will be able to handle anything that comes their way. How would you feel about the world literally being their oyster?