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Is Collusion a 21st Century Skill?

December 6, 2009

Yesterday, as I checked my email during a break in the OAGC Coordinator Division workshop, “Enhancing 21st Century Skills,” one item in my in-box stood out.   The subject line of the daily Ed Week Update, ironically, was, “Motives of 21st-Century-Skills Group Questioned.”

Shady Motives Behind P21 Group?

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) has no small number of critics, many due to educational or political ideological differences. Apparently, there is a new set of critics who believe that technology companies are marketing 21st Century Skills as a way to push technology (i.e. spending on technology) in the classroom.  Despite the concerns of critics, Ohio has recently become the 14th state to be accepted as a member of P21, run by Ken Kay, a former executive director for an information technology policy group.

Kay vs. Kim

As an interesting aside, the Ohio Department of Education also has an on-going relationship with creativity guru, Daniel Kim, who has been a steady presence at the Governor’s Institute for Creativity.  A few weeks ago, Kim delivered what at least one attendee felt was a very anti-technology keynote at the recent Ohio School Boards Association conference. Apparently, Kim likened social media to the evil Borg from Star Trek. Considering Kim is still using an overhead projector to deliver his keynotes, I think his views should not be surprising to anyone.

What are the 21st Century Skills?

So what are these 21st century skills and what do they mean for high ability students? The first part of this question is easy. As outlined by the P21 group, 21st century skills generally include:

• Creativity and Innovation
• Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
• Communication and Collaboration
• Information Literacy
• Media Literacy
• ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) Literacy
• Flexibility and Adaptability
• Initiative and Self-Direction
• Social and Cross-Cultural Skills
• Productivity and Accountability
• Leadership and Responsibility

To gifted educators, the first few look pretty familiar, don’t they? Nevertheless, the second part of the question about how these skills relate to gifted students appears to be difficult to answer.  As OAGC was putting on a workshp about 21st century skills and gifted students, I began to ask state and national level education experts about the relationship.  The answers I received were largely the same: a blank look and ultimately a conclusion that gifted education already includes many of these 21st century skill building attributes. But does it really? I, for one, think we could badly use more “flexibility and adaptability” in the treatment of high ability students in most districts.  And let’s assume most gifted professionals are already well-versed in teaching 21st century skills – especially the areas of “creativity and innovation” and “critical thinking and problem solving.”  Why aren’t school districts clamoring for these gifted professionals to train others in the districts?  It seems these days, that many districts instead are trying to find ways to eliminate gifted positions.

21st Century Questions

There does seem to be a void when it comes to defining 21st Century Skills for high ability students.  So, I throw the following questions out there:  What are the 21st century skills needed for gifted and high ability children? Are they any different than they are for other children? Are some more important than others? Also, who will win out in the Kay vs. Kim fight over Ohio education technology ideology? And finally, is it appropriate for a quasi-Luddite to use Star Trek references? What do you think?

3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 6, 2009 4:43 pm

    Take on this challenge – I maintain that no educational framework (at school, district, state, or university levels) includes the word “visual” in its list of core skills for general education. Can you prove me wrong?
    Look for that typical list of “written communication, oral communication, quantitative literacy,” etc. and ask yourself why “visual communication” or “visual literacy” is never included.

  2. Eric permalink
    December 6, 2009 8:10 pm

    who will win out in the Kay vs. Kim fight over Ohio education technology ideology?

    Tech loses–it got a lowballed “phase in.”

    Meanwhile, C. J. Prentiss and friends of Bill Ayers win. C.J.’s engagement coordinators and linkage coordinators were fully funded (but districts aren’t accountable for using these funds as directed, right?). The friends of Bill Ayers got teacher residency, district inspections by ed school faculty (an “inspectorate”), and building managers.

    Perhaps you were hoping the Governor’s roadmap for education reform and economic revival would actually help concerned citizens follow the money.

    But for asking, you win a gifted puzzler: What’s the smallest circular firing squad in which the innocent in the middle escapes unharmed? How could Daniel Kim, Ken Kay, and the friends of Bill Ayers make it happen?

    • anngift permalink*
      December 7, 2009 12:22 pm

      First of all, C.J. Prentiss is retired, and no one at the state level on either side of the aisle would question her commitment to bringing opportunities for urban school children. I admit, I am scratching my head over the Bill Ayers comments. But I do agree that, generally speaking, Ohio is behind in state level education technology policy.

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