Wednesday, January 25, 2012

P21, Education, and 21st Century Skills

Looking at the website of Partnership for 21st Century Skills, I had mixed emotions.

Their mission is a wonderful idea that I wish could be implemented instantly in schools throughout our nation. Simply put, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills’ mission is to bridge the gap between what students are learning in school and what skills they will need when they join the working world. They state that schools need to combine the 3 R’s (reading, writing, arithmetic) with the 4 C’s (critical thinking, communication, collaboration, and creativity).

This all sounds great! Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) offers a wealth of information about how 21st century skills are needed, which I full heartedly agree with. But like most education reforms, implementing 21st century skills will cost money. This is when my mixed emotions came in…

P21 offers professional development and guides for how to get started, but what it comes down to is that schools and districts will need to invest money and time to make a school wide change. The main cost will come from informing and providing professional development for teachers. Right now in the current climate, because 21st century skills are not tested, I do not see the implementation P21 suggests to be realistic.

Luckily, I am working at a school that is an International Bachelorette candidate school, which means we are working on transforming the way we teach so that students become effective global society members. When reviewing the P21 Core Toolkit, I found that some of the example lesson starters were similar to lessons/projects I am already beginning to integrate into my teaching. What was pleasantly surprising about some of the sample lesson starters offered in the toolkit, is not all of them require technology to be available. Some of the lessons were focused on critical thinking skills (real-life contexts) that anyone can implement in their classroom easily. While learning how to use technology is important, some schools do not have technology available, so it is encouraging to know that  21st century skills cant still be taught.

I recommend that anyone who is interested in implementing 21st century skills, check out this website. Regardless of whether or not this model will be implemented, it offers a wealth of information on why 21st century skills should be integrated in curriculum. I also recommend checking out their resources for educators (Route 21) because it offers a variety of input from what appears to be many community members. While, I think this resource database is at first hard to navigate, I did come across some worthy reading material on 21st century skills. 


  1. I agree, it is important to change American public schools so that they are producing students with 21st century skills. However, the cost to do so at a time when the public wants to cut money sent to public schools is a realistic problem. IN addition, when looking over the framwork of P21 the extent of the skills crosses over what educators should be responsible for with what parents and religious organizations should have the responsbility for. Do you agree?

    1. I do agree that money is an issue when it comes to P21. I also agree that it puts more on teachers shoulders, however, I will argue that educators are already responsible for what parents used to be responsible for. We now have to teach morals and what is right vs. what is wrong. I know I am one of the only stable adults for most of my students, which is hard, but it is why I know my job is important. When looking at P21, I think we need to look at it as what can be integrated into our classroom and focus on that, and hopefully the rest will fall into place. Thanks for the post!

  2. I did see that there were professional development pieces on the website, and that is where our school would need to spend most of its time and money. Even though I see that it is connected to testing, they are not directly tested skills. I can see why state, districts, and schools are hesitant to push this initiative. Right now we spend our staff development time and money on data analysis and school culture adaptions to help increase character education, positive behavior, and individual responsibility in our students.
    I am going to take a look at those lesson plans and see what I can do in my classroom. I missed those when I went through the site and if they do not all have large technology components, I want to try and see if I can implement any of the 4 Cs with my students. We do not have a lot of technology at our school, but the skills they focus on are important ones for my students.