Critique: “21st Century Skills are so last century!”

Donald Clark has an interesting critique about what the school can teach the students about the so-called 21st Century Skills by the title 21st Century Skills are so last century!

There are also some interesting comments after the post, for example from a reader “Neil” who suggests that

A minority of young people experience the latter through MMOs, but where else do they develop this? And, although more communictaion is becoming virual, young people need to be able to engage in face-to-face collaboration. School is a good place to do this and, in my experience, it is not something young people like doing. Yes, they may want to collaborate with friends on “raids”, but adult life also involves collaborating with people you don’t like around activities you’d not particularly choose.

I agree with the substantive point that many educators don’t have skills to teach these things directly, but I do think we can create environments in which they can emerge and be developed. You suggest a narrow range of contexts in which young people practice these skills, but I think we still need to address the issues of transfer and generalisation.

I think it is healthy to question these matters and also keep an ongoing discussion fruitful. Also what is actually critiqued should be clear. Is the point of the writer that

  • It is useless to embed the 21st century skills to “formal” education, or
  • Education and learning environments should be changed in a way where relevant skills and models are embedded in the learners’ lives
  • Nothing at all should be done.

I’m not actually sure what Donald then suggest we should do; keep the schools and educational institutions like they generally have been, get rid of all the teachers or get rid of even thinking about “teaching” the 21st century skills?

What I personally feel and seen is important, is teacher education. It has been done and changed before to suit the needs of that current society and should be gradually changing again. As if we still think teacher are important, which I think they are, we should think about how their education is organized.

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