Sunday, March 7, 2010

The Record & FDU's 21st Century Skill Event

Teaneck, March 5th, 2010

What kinds of skills do we need for the 21st Century? How does this fit into what we teach out children? How will this change schools and teaching and learning?

On Friday, I opened the 21st Century Skill Conference at Fairleigh Dickenson University with a brief talk. I related the experience of living in Spain with the kind of "out of the box" experience one needs to engage in to think creatively and playfully in order to engage in this new thinking. My experience taught me to use humor, creativity and connection to solve the real-life problem of living in a new culture and learning a language.

I shared my stories and listened to others. I enjoyed hearing from the very talented panelists who ranged from a middle school principal to a testing researcher at Educational Testing Service. Also interesting were the contributions of the sustainability people who learn to relate to how we make and use things in our world and how this affects our lives.

"Would you pay more for a car which is more expensive, but energy efficient if it helps a polar bear?"

Many people, including me said, "yes."

"Would you pay more for a car which is more expensive, but energy efficient for a beetle?"

Most people, including me laughed and said, "no."

"Well," continued the knowledgeable speaker, "the polar bear is helping us with breaking research on Diabetes and that beetle, that most of you don't care about, may help us understand how to cure MERCER which is killing the equivalent of a plane load of people a month.

"Oh," said the middle school principal next to me, "maybe I want to change my vote and vote for the beetle!"

Talking about 21st Century Skills is not just talking about technology. It's about learning new ways to think, to collaborate and to network using technology to put many minds on the issues of our day.

There is a whole lot to think about and that seems to be the point.

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