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21st Century Skills, by Dave Sanger

John Box was one of the presenters at the Partnership for 21st Century Learning presentation that I attended last fall. He explained that the partnership is currently working in North Carolina, West Virginia and Wisconsin, and would like to expand to other states. I am not sure the Colorado is considering becoming a Partnership state at this time, but I still believe that there are great ideas in this work for school librarians.

One of the first important ideas I think we should consider is the work that the Partnership has done to inform their work. They have done a series of interviews with leading American companies in which they asked, “What are the most important skills you look for in new hires?” The top responses were:

  • Outstanding work ethic
  • Ability to collaborate
  • Good Communication Skills
  • Social Responsibility
  • Good Reading Comprehension

It seems to me that these are skills and attitudes that we strive to encourage as we work with students around information literacy. They also have a series of expectations for schools becoming a part of the 21st Century Learning initiative. They include: Core subjects that should be included in schools

  • Thinking and Learning Skills
  • Life Skills
  • 21st Century Skills

I thought the most important places for us in our work are the thinking and life skills. In their framework, thinking and learning includes:

  • Critical Thinking
  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Communications
  • Collaboration
  • Contextual Learning
  • Information and Media Literacy

Life Skills include:

  • Leadership
  • Ethics
  • Accountability
  • Adaptability

For a good overview it is probably important to look at what the Initiative calls their frameworks. I believe working around this skill set might be a great way for librarians to update our image and move into the future.


5 Responses

  1. The six states currently are Maine, Massachusetts, North Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin. You can join the Route21 site even if our state is not a member: go to http://www.21stcenturyskills.org/route21/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=41&Itemid=35

    Since 2002, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills has been working with states and communities to reinvigorate learning to meet the demands of the 21st century. Based on this work, the Partnership believes there are seven strategies for a successful statewide 21st Century Skills Initiative:

    High-profile leadership
    Broad consensus and a shared vision
    Ongoing professional development in 21st century skills
    Standards and curriculum aligned with 21st century skills
    21st century assessments
    An effective communications strategy
    An aggressive implementation strategy
    Read more about the P21 partner

    Each member state has: standards, assessment, professional development, state resources, press and recognition, letters of support and an advisory council that can be viewed on the site.

    There is also a central repository of resources available to use as well as submit to.

    Worth checking out, I think. a rich resource. I do hope we join as a state.

  2. I, too, have been impressed by the work of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. A number of movers and shakers in Colorado are at least aware of the concepts, but in a state with such a decentralized school management structure, I’m not sure exactly who would have the clout to “make” Colorado join as a state.

    At a 21st Century Learning Navigator Conference in Colorado Springs in the summer of 2007, about two hundred educators came together to develop a vision for Colorado. Stevan Kalmon, Director of the Council on 21st Century Learning , set up the conference, along with his C21L Board of Directors. Judging from the mix of attendees at the conference (superintendents, politicians, state board members, education foundation representatives, student representatives, technology directors, and a handful of teachers and librarians), there is a undeniable push for 21st century skills throughout the state.

    It would be helpful if there were some kind of clearinghouse of 21st century efforts statewide, but again, who’s in charge? I guess that’s why it’s important for librarians to be on a number of different mailing lists, and not simply library-focused lists.

  3. Wow, we sure do have alot to keep up with. The pace of the change is exciting, but exhausting. How to do what I do now, but stay on top of all the 2.0 learning of the future, I’m not sure. But I am convinced if not us as library/technology/INFORMATION leaders and forward-thinkers, no one in public schooling is going to help us move education forward to the 21st Century.

  4. Here is an interesting slide show about the core beliefs for the 21st century learner by Cathy Nelson http://www.slideshare.net/cnelson/times-change/ Give it a look!

  5. Phil, Thanks for sharing Cathy’s slide show! I had to go and look up Doug Johnson’s blog entry that she mentions from Feb. 16: Have We Met The Enemy This is very thought provoking. I think I might use it for professional development with our librarians. It should get some good discussion going!

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