Rethinking Education

Essential Skills for a Fast-Changing Century

In a knowledge economy, the ability to articulate and solve problems, generate original ideas and work collaboratively across cultural boundaries is essential, and growing exponentially in importance. The challenge facing schools is to find ways to shift from traditional rote learning to integrate these skills into core curricula, all while giving due diligence to the three R’s.

Innovative teachers have long proven the value of moving beyond the world of academia to engage students in real world projects and practical applications of new technologies. But the United States should have “a system built around the idea that every kid needs to be able to critically think and problem-solve,” maintains Ken Kay, president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, a national advocacy group in Tucson, Arizona, which includes businesses, educational organizations and policymakers.

To do this, Kay says, teacher training, state curricula and testing all need to align with partnership goals. So far, 10 states have signed on: Arizona, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia and Wisconsin.

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