Saturday, May 12, 2012

More on "21st Century Skills"

Thanks to my mom, who works at a school which is committed to staying up to date with research about education in the 21st century, I'm lucky enough to get lists of resources and journal articles that I would probably never have stumbled across otherwise. It makes for very thought-provoking reading. The research is aimed at education in a school setting rather than in homeschooling, but it's still extremely useful when I'm trying to define what my goals are for my daughters' education.

All of this research makes a distinction between content and skills; between the hard facts which kids should know, and the things which they should be able to do with that information. Most of the articles I've read devote more attention to the skills than to the content. Content is (comparatively) less important nowadays, these researchers argue, partly because the information age has made fact-finding so much easier and faster, and partly because the world is changing so fast that we can't hope to give our children all the information they'll need for their futures. So we should focus instead on giving the skills they'll need to educate themselves, and to thrive in a world of fast-changing, highly-interactive information.

Here's a summary of those skills, drawn from several articles I really liked:

  • Problem solve across multiple disciplines;
  • Communicate information and ideas effectively using a variety of media and formats; 
  • Collaborate with others; 
  • Think creatively;
  • Apply critical thinking skills to any field of study, including those that do not yet exist;
  • Preparation for responsible participation in the global community.

I don't really know what our homeschooling journey will look like, in terms of what subjects we'll study or how we'll go about studying them, but at least I now have this list of goals to refer back to when it comes to making choices for the girls' education. We don't exactly have a roadmap, but at least we have a compass :)

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