I wrote previously about what I had learned about 21st Century education and skills. I’ve also been using my self-professed educational leave as a time to explore different models of teaching and learning. Through that exploration of education, I’ve had the opportunity to listen to some real leaders in this area – not only people who teach but people who are driving change in our educational approaches and pushing the boundaries of what we know about learning and teaching.
In early November, Vic Vuchic participated in a MOOC I’m in (Edstartup101), as a visiting expert talking about his work on education for the Hewlett Foundation. He mentioned their focus on deeper learning and improving assessment of learning their funding for the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. He also talked about a
report (that they contributed funding towards) by the National Research Council (U.S.) regarding deeper learning. I did some poking around because he mentioned that the final report entitled Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century had proposed a re-org of 21st Century Skills and validated Hewlett’s emphasis on deeper learning in their Education program.
Unfortunately, the NRC has only made a summary available to the public; it’s $68 for a copy of the full report. I’ll wait until I’m back at work and encourage them to pay. Seems unsporting to charge for research that you are funded to do by U.S. foundations including Hewlett, MacArthur and Nellie Mae Education (or am I just being cheap?)
So, back to 21st Century Skills. The summary (as reported by Hewlett Foundation and others) focuses on three groups:
1. Cognitive competencies (I think I prefer the term “skill”?): critical thinking, problem-solving, reasoning, innovation
2. Intrapersonal skills: metacognition, flexibility, self-direction, conscientiousness
3. Interpersonal skills: communication, collaboration
The report includes recognition of the fundamental synergy between content knowledge and these skills.
The report calls for government and policy makers to focus on key areas:
- curriculum and materials
- teacher education
It doesn’t appear all that new to me. I’ve been around long enough to have seen (and heard) lots of discussion around the fact that we want students to learn deeply but we only have time to assess at a superficial level (retention and basic application) and the drive is to produce stats that can be shared and used in meaningless public statement about relative performance of students in different schools.
Current education policy and practice—driven by assessments that focus primarily on recall of facts and procedures—too often fails to deliver teaching and learning of transferable 21st century competencies. (Hewlett news report – Jul 10 2012 – National Research Council Report Highlights Importance of “Deeper Learning“
I would modify “too often fails” to “almost always fails”. And that is despite the best intentions of various teachers and some administrators.