’21st century skills’…ah yes. It is one of those terms that people catch onto as if it is new, novel, unique – not unlike what I said in my post about novices and their adoption of new technologies.

And, again, we see the entrepreneurs (business, industry and marketeers) grab hold of this construct of ’21st century skills’ – and flog it to make their fortunes.  Senior management, educational policy leaders and the public latch onto these kinds of terms and mission statements with a fervour that disgusts me. Are we so naive and gullible?  Are we so uneducated, unwise and unaware of the principles of educational pedagogy of the past millennia? We should all be extremely insulted and we should rebel against such fallacy.

Now, do I think that there are some differences in the tools and media that encourage and support that which progressive educators have deigned to do over the years? Yes.  I do.

Here are some of those:

  • knowledge representation and visualizations made possible by the technologies (such as Jeff Han’s Perceptive Pixel Wall) enable us to see information and trends more clearly, therefore acting as a cognitive partner in our problem solving skills
  • the ubiquity and ease of personal learning networks (PLNs) afforded by social media allow for scaffolding of learning in ways that were more difficult previously
  • we now have richer, deeper ‘media with which to think’ – in ways that are similar to the invention of language which provided us with symbols with which to think differently
  • brain research is revealing the neuroplasticity of the brain and the wisdom to not think of the brain, and all resultant behaviours, quirks and ‘deficits’, as fixed and static and irreparable

These points do not indicate that we need 21st century skills!  These are rather 21st century inventions and discoveries that move us along the path towards the higher level skills many of us have espoused for years – or centuries.

(Note: Of course, I recognize that people need to learn the new technologies and their applications. This, also, has been an ongoing need throughout history as new technologies arose.  Not new.)

Thanks to Brenda Sherry for stimulating this rant!  🙂 It is cross-posted in a reply to her post.