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More on 21st-c Skills and Teaching

By Stephen Sawchuk — March 11, 2009 1 min read

It’s the debate that won’t die! Robert Pondiscio at the Core Knowledge blog takes issue with Ken Kay’s rebuttal to the 21st-century skills smackdown of the other day. Despite Mr. Kay’s contention that the argument isn’t about content v. skills but how to provide students with both, the P21 Web site doesn’t include examples of units that simultaneously integrate 21st-c skills and engage students in rich content, he asserts.

I took a look at the groups’ skills map in core content areas, which can be found here. Here’s one example for 12th grade English from the map:

“After reading a dystopian novel such as The Giver, The Lord of the Flies, The Handmaid’s Tale, or Fahrenheit 451, students will create a movie trailer that highlights universal questions raised by the novel. Students will view each others’ trailers, write up notes critiquing them, and present their feedback in a ‘Siskel and Ebert’ remake.”

Echoing Robert’s comments, a couple of educators at the panel discussion said they felt that these types of activities were poor substitutes for rich discussions of the novels’ themes and literary merits.

On the other hand, these “skill maps” were put together in collaboration with associations that represent content educators, such as the National Council of Teachers of English, Mr. Kay told me in an interview. So does that mean that, even within the teaching profession, there isn’t agreement about what “core content” means?

Let the debate continue...

P.S. A lot of great, thought provoking comments on this previous post on 21st-century skills. Check them out!

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.

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