The term “21st-century skills”—generally used to refer to such competencies as digital literacy, critical thinking, and problem solving—is a loaded one in education today. It often seems to pit advocates of constructivist, technology-enhanced learning against traditionalists who stress the centrality of content knowledge.
In thinking about the concept for this issue, however, we’ve tried to take a less black-and-white approach. The world has changed a great deal in the last two decades, particularly as a result of developments in information technology. We wanted to look at how conscientious teachers and schools are integrating these changes into their classrooms, and how teachers’ own work is affected.
Fittingly, we begin in our From the Field section with a pair of essays by distinguished veteran teachers who reflect on how they are working to enhance their practice in light of the changes in our society and economy.
Our Features section opens with an extensive Q&A with Will Richardson, an English teacher-turned-tech expert who believes that innovations in digital technology present a whole new—and still largely unrealized—dynamic for K-12 instruction.
To get additional perspective on how education is changing (and how it’s not), we asked 11 prominent educators for their personal definition of the term “21st-century learning.”
Turning from theory to practice, we explore how one Massachusetts district is cultivating new learning priorities, in large part through specialized professional development and a process of cultural change.
Finally, we preview a new book that looks at how the role of teacher leaders might be transformed as a result of technology changes and new models of schooling.
This issue won’t likely resolve the arguments around 21st-century skills. But we hope it gives you greater knowledge and inspiration as you navigate your own path as an educator in a time of momentous change.
A version of this article appeared in the October 12, 2010 edition of Teacher PD Sourcebook