21st century skills

Incentive Bill for 21st Century Skills

Jane Park, June 2nd, 2009

Last month, a bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. Senate recognized the fact that students learning today need to be taught the necessary skills to succeed in this century—an age of new media, the Internet, and ever evolving technologies. The bill, introduced by Senator John D. Rockefeller IV, would “create a new incentive fund that will encourage States to adopt the 21st Century Skills Framework.” The fund would provide federal matches to those states that integrate the teaching of 21st century skills such as “creativity, innovation, critical thinking and financial, economic, business and entrepreneurial literacy” into core curricula, according to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills.

eSchool News reports what Shelley Pasnik, “director of the Education Development Center’s Center for Children and Technology,” has to say:

“The legislation goes beyond technology. It’s about implementing a framework for 21st-century learning,” she said. “It’s more promising this way. If it were just about technology purchases, it would be a missed opportunity.”

We couldn’t agree more. Giving a student a computer won’t teach him or her how to use one, but integrating activities that require the use of one will. More broadly, students will learn the relevant skills to succeed in the current day and future when core curriculum is revamped to include current day and future projects. Revamped curriculum and associated learning materials will also only achieve maximum impact if the resources are open for use and iteration. Opening up the resources makes the federal investment worthwhile, and is helpful for states that are slow in jumping on the bandwagon to catch up. It also gives extra incentive for high quality materials, as competition turns to collaboration between states.

You can read the full text of the proposed bill here.

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