Here’s a meme I can sink my teeth into. “Five things policymakers ought to know!” I have not been formally tagged, as far as I know, but I ran across Cathy Nelson’s and Doug Johnson’s reports this morning and a Google Blog search [rss] revealed five others. A straight Google search found a bunch more, including its launch, which appears to have been Nancy Flanagan of Teacher in a Strang Land (wish I’d though of that one).
For the most part, I’m borrowing pretty heavily from others, but just inserting my 2? worth. [Image1]
- Keep politics out of education.
I remember when the 1983 Nation at Risk letter was published by the National Commission on Excellence in Education, stating that our children were attending schools of mediocrity. I had already been teaching for many years, and I remember saying, “This is fantastic. With this, our government has to start investing more in education.” Little did I know that their political interests would not come from paying for better classrooms. Instead it would be in redefining education — and as a result, the institution was taken over by amateurs.
- Accountability can be demonstrated in better and more relevant ways than tests. As we examine any
listing of 21st century skills, we see nothing new. These are skills that have long been valued. What is new, as revealed by the, “Are They Really Ready to Work?” report from The Conference Board and others,2 is that these are entry level skills. Traditionally they were skills gained “on the job,” and they usually led to promotion.
Today, they will best be gained in our classrooms through on-the-job style learning experiences — and these learning experiences will best occur as a result of performance-based assessments that are authentic to 21st century conditions. High-stakes testing is nothing more than an industrial age solution to an information age problem.
- The greatest assets of your schools are in its people.
A vast majority of teachers and administrators are highly educated, experienced, dedicated professionals with a sense of success based on high expectations. It is also crucial that we start to consider the learners in our schools as a critical asset to the learning experience. The greatest gain to education will not come from modernizing our classrooms with projectors and smartboards, though these are necessary refinements.
The greatest gain will come from the collective knowledge and experience of the education community. Infrastructure must be invented and implemented that cultivates an ongoing professional conversation across the entire education landscape where a learning lifestyle is not only taught by teachers, but also modeled throughout the profession.
- We skimp on the creative arts at our own peril.
The STEM subjects are critical to a future of prosperity. However, in the market place, it is the aesthetics that we value, that we shop for, that we choose and buy. For the very same reason that we promote STEM, we need to invest just as much in the creative arts.
It is equally critical that our students become full citizens within their entire physical, cultural, societal, and political environment. This means that greater investment must fall to the entire curriculum, health, physical education, communication, literature, ethics, and the social studies. If you think about the real problems of the world, they are not problems of science and math. They are problems of communication, people, communities, and values.
Anyone who reads this and is inspired to share their list, can consider themselves tagged.
- Verde, Amodiovalerio. "Directions." Amodiovalerio Verde's Photostream. 30 May 2005. 10 Aug 2008 <http://flickr.com/photos/amodiovalerioverde/16434738/>. [↩]
- Casner-Lotto, Jill. “Are They Really Ready to Work?.” The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. 2006. The Conference Board, Corporate Voices for Working Families, Partnership for 21st Century Skills, & Society for Human Resource Management. 19 May 2008 <www.21stcenturyskills.org/documents/FINAL_REPORT_PDF09-29-06.pdf>. [↩]
About the Author: 35 year educator, programmer, author, and public speaker. Read more from this author