I have watched with interest this week as posts have started to burn through the edblogosphere about the importance of helping students become globally competitive. I think Will Richardson started it off with his thoughts regarding Thomas Friedman’s new book The World is Flat. A few others chimed in on this, and then I connected these posts with Darren’s about the 1 hour professional development video of Alan November’s hosted at the Apple Learning Interchange. I took the time to watch the video yesterday morning before school; it is worth it. It focuses on this idea as well. How do we help students become globally competitive? What will they need to be able to do, and need to know?
As I have worked with, and tried to re-mould the curriculum that I work with in my classroom, helping students to acquire skill sets which are globally competitive has often been at the forefront of my mind. National governments wanting students to be globally competitive is a fine sentiment, but it still all comes back to the classroom where the learning happens.
What do classrooms look like where students are being challenged to see and build the future?
Googling "21st century skills for students" brought me 3,370,000 hits, so I know that people are thinking of this issue. But I wonder how many of them are teachers? Governments, corporations, and non-profit organizations all seem to have plenty to say on the issue, but why don’t teachers? While it is granted that our classrooms are heavily restricted by curricular outcomes and (more so in the U.S. then Canada) standardized testing, there needs to be a way out of the box that we are in.
Corporations complain that students are not ready for the new economy; that they have no skills. The CEO of Intel goes on record saying that he will never have to hire another American again if he does not want to because Asian nations are educating enough engineers to fill every position they could ever create.
There is a vast difference between helping students to see the future, to them becoming advocates and builders of that future. I think many of them clearly see what is happening around them, but they feel unable to become a part of it. Kids need appropriate skills, content, and tools for their times.