Tag Archives: 21stCentrutyskills

Manchester Schools Fall for the “21st Century Skills” Fad

If you watch the video from the Curriculum and Instruction Meeting https://vimeo.com/channels/660461 you will see at 1:10:00 a discussion between the Curriculum and Instruction Committee and the Guidance Counselor.

The goal appears to be…SELL the “21st Century Skills” fad to the board members without offering them any critical information. For instance, when you get to around 1:30:00 you will hear School Board Member Sarah Ambrogi refer to this fad as “awesome.”

These 21st Century Skills are nothing new. In fact they are based on the failed Outcome Based Education model that seeks to implement dumbed down workforce skills into the daily curriculum.

This fad was all the rage in the 90′s but was abandoned in many schools and states when parents figured out that this kind of shift to “workforce skills” took valuable time away from focusing on academics. In other words, this was a contributing factor to illiteracy versus a tool to improve literacy in the schools.

We realize that there are other important qualities a teacher will focus on. That’s why report cards in the past would identify whether your child was attentive, self-disciplined, etc. The teacher would make comments based on their subjective judgement and offer parents a glimpse of how their child was behaving in the classroom.

Workforce training, or 21st Century Skills is different. This is part of the Obama redesign to an Outcome Based Ed. model and is based on the old SCANS “outcomes” or “skills.”

It sounds great to think that children will be learning some 21st century skills, but parents must ask themselves, does this come at the expense of academic achievement? In other words, where was any kind of independent studies offered that showed improvement in literacy with this fundamental shift? That’s the FIRST question the board members should have asked.

Here is an OLD document dispelling the myths that 21st Century Skills offers students an improved academic education: http://greatminds.net/maps/documents/reports/CConP21final-090915.pdf

“Skills are important and the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) has identified skills that all children need such as critical thinking, creativity, and problem-solving. But P21’s approach to teaching those skills marginalizes knowledge and therefore will deny students the liberal education they need. Cognitive science teaches us that skills and knowledge are interdependent and that possessing a base of knowledge is necessary to the acquisition not only of more knowledge, but also of skills. Skills can neither be taught nor applied effectively without prior knowledge of a wide array of subjects.
Education policy and practice should be based on sound research and informed by an understanding of what has worked and what has failed in the past. Attempts to teach skills apart from knowledge have failed repeatedly over the last century because they do not work. Unless it is fundamentally revised, the program put forth by P21 also will fail. In the meantime, it is undermining the quality of education in America.”

We suspect “critical thinking” may be among those “21st Century Skills” now being promoted in the Manchester School District. However we question WHY the Guidance Counselor failed to offer the board members any critical analysis on the 21st Century Skills fad.

Manchester parents would be wise to also read this critical piece from The Heritage Foundation printed in 2001. After watching the sales job from the Manchester Guidance Counselor, make sure you read through the Heritage article that talks about the problems with this fundamental shift from a focus on a liberal arts academic education to dumbed down workforce training:

“Quite unnoticed, a new definition of education standards has emerged–one that places greater relevance on the world of work. All learning is to take place within the context of a work situation or real-world environment with emphasis on workplace competencies. It is argued that this will provide relevance for students that will foster in them a desire to achieve greater levels of learning. But the result has been a narrower education that focuses on practical skills to the detriment of a broader academic education. The danger of the new education standards is that they may elevate workplace competencies above essential academic knowledge.
Not all education is vocational education. Schools should not be required or encouraged by federal funding to narrow their focus to emphasize workplace skills.”

Contact your Manchester School Board Members and tell them that you expect better than a Guidance Counselor selling your board members the Obama (Outcome Based Ed) reform. Tell them that you expect your board members to ask for sufficient proof from independent sources that any kind of shift away from a focus on academics will not result in an increase in illiteracy among the student population.

Here is a link to your Manchester School Board Members. Send them this article and tell them you expect more for your tax dollars and for your children: http://bosc.mansd.org