The Partnership for 21st Century Skills is a national organization dedicated to education reform aimed at better preparing students for the workplace, citizenship, and leadership through ICT literacy. This organization represents a collaboration between “the business community, education leaders, and policymakers to define a
powerful vision for 21st century education.” Their website is a great place to view real examples of teachers integrating technology into their curriculum to better connect their content to students’ lives and future work.
The Partnership presents the Framework for 21st Century Learning, which includes core subjects, as always; but adds “Learning and Innovation Skills, Information, Media and Technology Skills, Life and Career Skills, and 21st Century Assessments.” I am pleased that the importance of content knowledge is in no way diminished by the addition of ICT literacy, according to this vision. Ideally, content learning is enhanced by the use of tools and strategies that businesses expect students to become familiar with.
I am not surprised to see Learning and Innovation Skills included in the outcomes for 21st Century learning, since critical thinking and problem solving skills, creativity, innovation, communication, and collaboration are all skills that have been emphasized in my own coursework, and in my Language Arts classroom. Nor am I surprised by the call for Information, Media and Technology Skills. Clearly, in the 21st Century, students, employees, and citizens need the ability to “access and assess information.” It makes sense that 21st Century Assessments should come along with this curriculum, too; since it is important to develop meaningful assessments for all of these types of skills and knowledge.
The outcomes that do surprise me are the Life and Career Skills. The partnership calls for us to “incorporate these essential skills into schools deliberately, strategically and broadly.” Included as Life Skills are: “Leadership, Ethics, Accountability, Adaptability, Personal Productivity, Personal Responsibility, People Skills, Self Direction, and Social Responsibility.” As an educator, this list seems a bit overwhelming on top of the curriculum that has already been articulated for my classes. However, these do seem like important life skills; and they are skills that businesses are asking for. Fortunately, there are examples and resources available at this website to help educators engage students in meaningful work that will prompt them to develop these skills.
The Partnership urges business leaders and community members “to partner with local school districts to help create an educational system that better prepares today’s students for tomorrow’s workplace.” Through these “Public-Private” partnerships we can define the skills needed to succeed in the workforce while developing real, community-based learning opportunities for students and teachers. I believe collaborating with the business community and convincing business leaders of the value of investing in education will be fundamental to funding advancements in the use of technology in public schools. Here is a site that seeks to encourage this; and to push 21st Century Skills to the forefront of the Education agenda in the United States.
In my own work as a teacher, I continue to educate myself about technology and methods for using it to make learning more relevant, more personalized, more forward-thinking, and more global. I strive to prepare my students for creative careers that may not even exist today. I have bookmarked The Partnership for 21st Century Skills website as a valuable teaching resource, and as another place to connect with other educators who are addressing the importance of ICT literacy in the classroom.
Partnership for 21st Century Skills. 2004. Retrieved Jan. 25, 2010 at http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/index.php.