This week my learning was prodded and extended by my colleagues…
I received the following note from Terri Bianco who is the writer I’ve work with on all the books and many articles I’ve published. Terri and I, in conjunction with Joe Hasenstab, the founder of Performance Learning Systems, are currently working on a new book for teachers and administrators on Questions for Life.
“I had my talk with Jim Ware, “Executive Producer” and cofounder of Future of Work. Their thrust is to create workplaces and work skills commensurate with what the future will be — with energy, green buildings, transportation and commuting, etc. being top issues. They have a book out called Corporate Agility.
It was a very rewarding discussion in that he echoed a lot of what we’ve been saying — what students need to learn to be a future worker are skills such as self-sufficiency, self-discipline, flexibility, working in multiple places (!). Kids should be treated as college kids — told to do the project but not how.
As to how teachers should teach, he said we’re still teaching for industrial age jobs and that teachers need to “create real work, real tasks. Things that make a difference, have a consequence, count, deal with reality.” Sound familiar?
Note: Terri was on the design team of the PLS course, Live Event Learning.
Neil Rothman, another colleague and an instructor of PLS’s Live Event Learning course sent me a note drawing my attention to:
This report provides evidence that teaching for critical thinking skills and creativity not only provide important workplace or life skills, but also support the learning of basic or core content material.
Teaching children basic facts and simple procedures in a way that helps them also learn how to apply and use this knowledge and these skills mirrors the natural process of learning. So the integration of advanced thinking and analytical skills into teaching and learning makes it easier for students to acquire even the most basic skills and core knowledge.
The notion that basic and advanced skills are best learned together is one of the major findings of a recent report on mathematics education, funded and released by the U.S. Department of Education. The best learning happens, the report asserts, when students learn basic content and processes, such as the rules and procedures of arithmetic, at the same time that they learn how to think and solve problems.
The attributes that business and higher education leaders are calling for in young people—that they be independent thinkers, problem-solvers, and decision-makers—are captured by the advanced skills in the revised Bloom’s taxonomy,(see: A Taxonomy for Learning, Teaching and Assessing: A Revision of Bloom’s Taxonomy of Educational Objectives, 2001) the ability to analyze, evaluate, and create.13
Integrating 21st century skills into teaching and assessment, then, is not only an economic imperative, driven by changes in the workforce, but a vital aspect of improving student learning.
My colleague, Mark Thompson, director of the National Educator Program , sent me their new free Innovation 2 newsletter. The National Educator Program (NEP) works in developing leadership, sustainable school improvement, career academies, high school redesign and all forms of small learning communities.
In Innovation 2, Mark highlights several examples of schools where students are experiencing opportunities for 21st century skills, such as The Engineering Academy at Foley High School in Foley Alabama where students are exploring various engineering fields while fostering mastery of Alabama state content standards.
Students are focused on an important current problem facing all Americans: the need to be energy independent and develop alternative sources of fuel to augment and possibly replace gasoline. Students will explore a variety of fuels with a special focus on biofuel. They will investigate discarded food oils, corn and switch grass to determine the best energy-per-acre yield. The students will then work to transform each of these into a viable fuel. It is hoped that at the end of the school year, one of the Baldwin County School busses will be able to run for a whole day on biofuel made by Foley Engineering Academy students!
Thanks Terri, Neil, Mark and all of you who keep me learning.