31 Mar Next Administration
The ability of future generations to solve the network of complex global problems sure to confront them will depend on their capacity to think critically, communicate effectively, and look at systems (be they economic, political, or natural) in innovative and interrelated ways. Teaching students the skills they will need to survive and thrive in such an environment requires that educators, administrators, and policy makers take a second look at traditional standards.
An education relevant to the 21st century emphasizes a more engaging approach to learning environments. Students need access to experiences that cultivate curiosity, creativity, and collaboration as well as basic skills. For all students to reach their unique potential and maximize individual talents they will need opportunities to wrestle with real problems in ways that integrate subjects and skills, providing a meaningful context for investigation and application.
The accountability efforts of the past decade brought light into pockets of our school systems long hidden by tradition and complacency. However, it was a start, not a finish. Lasting reform that inspires both teachers and students must include the voices of educators and reflect a nuanced understanding of how the theory of multiple intelligences influences differentiated curriculum design.
Our education dialogue would benefit from a vocabulary stimulus package. Hopefully the next administration will use terms such as engaging, relevance, rigor, integration, investigation, creativity, differentiation, whole child, creativity, application, communication, media-literacy, technology, service learning, and equal access in addition to accountability, standards, and basic skills.