I recently visited the site The Partnership for 21st Century Skills http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/index.php for an assignment in the class I am taking. At first glance, this website looks like another compilation of multiple ideas about how to accelerate the evolution of the American school system from its Industrial Age foundation to the Technological/Information Age. The partnership’s site describes its 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”. As I began to explore the site I was surprised at the amount of input the site receives from a multitude of different sources in the public and private sector. The site serves as a meeting place for giants from the academic sector as well as the private market and not only informs educators and educational policy-makers but provides real, usable resources for individual educators as well as school leadership teams to help transition into a 21st century school. The partnership’s sister-site Route 21 not only explains what a 21st century classroom should look like (and there are MANY different models), but also gives teachers tools such as lesson plans, collaborative team building exercises, and school leadership guidelines to help schools make the transition quickly and easily.
After perusing the site over the past few days, I do have some concern about this organizations partnership between big business and public education. Although I see the urgency to have input from the companies that many of my students will, most likely, one day work for, I hesitate to allow these businesses to develop curriculum and dictate to federal, state, and local governments what should be included in the classroom. A healthy dialogue about the transformation of the public, educational system requires the input from business, government, and community, but I worry when business can begin to have more control over what is taught in the classroom.
Although I have some mild concerns, I see this website as incredibly useful for any educator/school looking to move into the 21st century. For my own students, I can adapt many of the technological based lessons to my own assigned curriculum and focus on the skills (creativity and innovation, critical thinking and problem solving, communication and collaboration, information literacy, media literacy, ICT literacy, and life and career skills) that this organization has found will help all of my students succeed in the 21st century workplace. As a contemporary educator, the information on this site will assist me in transforming my classroom, through the incorporation of technology, as well as a shift to inquiry-driven, project-based assignments with multitudes of diverse assessments, and developing the foundational knowledge my students will need for the future.