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“better than” anyone—it seems appropri- complex work.” (For the perspective of a
ately geared toward doing their very best teacher in the CFSD, please see Wayne
for the children in their district. Thornes’ article on page 4 of this
CFSD used the P21 Framework as a issue.)
guide to develop their own local frame- So, are student-centered
work based on community input. They learning, critical thinking, and
have been working closely with P21 for the collaboration brand-new,
last three years through a local P21 group unique skills? No. Are they
of school districts that are implementing packaged for sale by cor-
twenty-first-century skills, keeping them porations, eagerly drool-
abreast of their curriculum overhaul. ing over profits to be
Ms. Conery states, “We created a CFSD made by the steady
Advisory group on twenty-first-century new trail of work-
skills that included local CeOs, university ers, adequately
and community college staff, parents, com- prepared to do
munity members, high school students, their bidding?
teachers, and administrators. The Partner- Perhaps. It is
ship did an overview of the P21 model difficult to
and participated in the group to select the make an Catalina Foothills School
specific skills for CFSD. The district asked accurate generalization, especially about the
District’s diagram of their
the advisory group, ‘What are the skills our motivations of large entities rather than dis-
twenty-first-century skills
students will need to thrive in the twenty- tinct personalities. Will these skills contrib-
framework
first century?’” ute to the loss of core curriculum? Nowhere
As a result of that work, CFSD has rede- in the literature of either P21 or CFSD did I
signed the standards in four major content find ideas to support that, or even the leav-
areas, embedding specific skills into the ing behind of content in favor of process.
actual curriculum, so as not to burden They seem to advocate a balanced emphasis.
teachers with another layer on top of what I think the most troubling aspect of the
they are already doing. The framework is publicity about twenty-first-century skills is
integrated into the curriculum every day. the emphasis on being “number one” and the
The district makes every effort to support idea that we are competing in a global econ-
teachers in the transition to adopting the new omy. When that alone becomes the impetus
standards. Teachers are provided with in-ser- for creating curriculum and establishing the
vice time and technical support, for instance. needs of children, then I find I agree with
However, Ms. Conery says, “Implementing Alfie Kohn, who writes: “education ought
the P21 Framework isn’t about adding a skill to aim higher. Our loyalty, after all, is not to
Before becoming the editor
here and there. They must be deeply embed- corporations but to children. Our chief con-
of Connect, Heather Taylor
ded in our daily work with students. They cern—our ‘bottom line,’ if you must—is not
taught K–2 multi-age classes
are not a magic bullet. This is really hard, victory for some but learning for all.”
8
in southeastern Vermont.
1. http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/education.
2. Jo Boaler, What’s Math Got to Do with It? (Viking, 2008), 3–4.
3. National Center for education Statistics, “Highlights from TIMMS: Overview and Key Findings across grade Levels,”
http://nces.ed.gov/pubs99/1999081.pdf.
4. generalized from material of Partnership for 21st Century Skills, http://www.21stcenturyskills.org, and NCreL, the
North Central regional educational Laboratory, http://www.learningpt.org.
5. Diane ravitch, responding to comments on the National Journal expert Blogs: education, “Has the P21 Movement Suc-
ceeded?” September 8, 2009, http://education.nationaljournal.com/2009/09/has-the-21stcentury-skills-mov.php#1352513. Note
that CommonCore.org, referred to here, a Washington, D.C., non-profit, is distinct from the newer effort, The Common Core State
Standards Initiative. The latter is a fourty-nine-state effort coordinated by the National governors Association Center for Best
Practices (NgA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO).
6. http://www.commoncore.org/wwd.php.
7. Stephen Sawchuk, “Motives of 21st-Century-Skills group Questioned,” Education Week, December 9, 2009, http:
//www.edweek.org.
8. Alfie Kohn, “Against Competitiveness,” Education Week, September 19, 2007, http://www.alfiekohn.org/teaching/
edweek/competitiveness.htm.
© synergy learning • 800-769-6199 • January/February 2010 Connect • Page 9
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