Communication skills are key. The ability to interact with both customers and co-workers effectively, through oral and written methods is essential. With technology constantly evolving, workers must be able to absorb and analyze new information frequently. Collaboration and teamwork are made stronger when team members communicate effectively.
In many respects, I agree with Teq; however, I think he is focusing on only a couple of sections of the 21st Century Skills. It is important to understand that we as educators will never really be able to keep up with the work world. We can try to incorporate the skills that they may use, but that requires dynamic business/school partnerships that are only beginning to emerge. A great book to read in relationship to this topic is The Global Achievement Gap.
It is important to remember that business changes with the market, and the market can change yearly, monthly, weekly, daily, hourly, etc. Education is a function of an arm of the government, and is therefore subject to change in policy and law. Those things require thought, deliberation, and then consensus of the majority stakeholders. So, by the time we change to keep up with business, business has changed many times. A great example of that is the 21st Century Skills that states are only beginning to mandate twelve years into the 21st century. With new technology, maybe we'll make it into the 22nd century five years sooner than we did the 21st?
I agree, writing, reading, and collaboration (writing and verbal communication) are all important aspects of preparing our students for joining the 21st century workforce. However, these skills must be developed and practiced by students as well as teachers. The unfortunate aspect of this is most educators have spent zero time working in the "real" world. As Mr. Adams suggests, educators can never really keep up with the work world because we work for the government and may sometimes lack the necessary experience to accurately replicate real world experiences in the classroom. School systems across the country should continue to cultivate business/education/community partnerships to more effectively leverage the experts into our classroom, as well as seek to hire more folks from the private sector who do understand how corporate America works. This, in my opinion, is the one way to honestly instruct students in 21st century skills.
The Partnership for 21st Century Skills' p21.org website is a good place to start to connect educational practices to the real world. I absolutely agree that we need greater community involvement in our schools -- which are a part of our communities. Students (and educators) need to see what's going on in area businesses first hand, and benefit from the informal mentoring that can occur around careers related to student talents and interests. Businesses should be invited to influence what is taught, and how. We can also benefit from labor market projections to learn about the skills that will be required for emerging, high paying jobs. This organizational learning through partnerships can be a surprising process; creativity, collaboration, and a design sense can turn out to be just as valuable as academic skills.
There definitely needs to be more of a connection between the community and schools. Schools are supposed to provide students with real world experiences and problems, in all subject areas, and what better way to do so then to partner with businesses and community groups that are a part of the real world. It is difficult for young students to really think ahead to college and career - it is so far away - but bringing the community into schools opens up the world to them and gives them a chance to see what is expected of them in the future. It also makes the learning done in school have more purpose.
Back in April Tom Hodkinson wrote that communication was key. He also described a key element of that communication which is critical thinking. We have to teach students how to think and how to become life long learners. Teaching to the market will never be good enough as the market is ever changing. If we teach students to be glovbal thinkers, good communiators and knowledge seekers I believe we will have prepare them for whtever career choises they make. If the future of the US is technology and higher level profesional careers with the assumption that other countries take over more of the manual labor and manufacturing skills we will have to do a better job of teaching our own, or we will have an even larger wave of immigration for the top jobs here at home.
I have spent some time thinking about and reading the posts, and I agree that changes need to be made. We spent three days as a staff this summer going over our graduate profile. We wanted to be sure that we had the "end in mind." (Understanding by Design)
After discussing the goal, we began to look at how our school was thinking about those goals. The 21st Century skills were put on the board, and so were the Habits of Mind. We also decided to move away from grades, except a final grade, and to use feedback as the goal for student improvement. A cooperative and collaborative business model does not give grades, and yet constant improvement and profit are expected. We are hoping that the new model is more coaching, less teaching, and a lot more great independent student work.
I have tried to incorporate this model in my class over the last three years, and I am happy that a version of it is going school wide. To give you an example of what it can do, one of my students graduated this spring and has an internship with NASA. I pushed her to follow her interests independently, and I coached her in looking for answers to her science questions. I gave her books to read and focused her attention on areas of research she might be interested in.
The kicker is that she does not want to be a scientist! However, she accepted the internship, and is spending the summer working in a laser testing lab. A couple of nights ago, she got bored and decided to head to the lab and try out some stuff she was thinking about and record some data she thought they might need in the future. The next morning the director pulled her aside and offered her another summer internship for her independent work. If she accepts, she might be traveling the world next summer delivering the results of their data. This is the unbelievable stuff that can happen if we cultivate all interests.
As a health career professional and nurse educator, one of the great problems I see is the disconnect between the workforce readiness and the preparation of students. Implementation of the College and Career Readiness Achievement Statndards is one way to help bridge that gap. I agree with Timothy that we may never be able tokeep up with changes insociety son how about changing our direction and focusing to teaching students how to learn rather than filling their minds with information that is outdated before it is ever used. Technology is something that many students already bring to the learnng environment even at the youngest of ages. If we can do more to construct the learning environment around what students are already comfortable with and connect technology in a way that will help students progress into the work world, I think all disciplines of learning can better prepare students and produce better outcomes in all levels of education.
In a society where there is very little family life. So many students come to school everyday without the skills needed to be successful. Not only educationally, but in every aspect of life. They are struggling to survive, let alone prepared to learn. We must first focus on character, everything else will follow. If a student has "good" character, then we can focus on the other skills necessary to be career ready.