It was noted that a New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce met to design a blueprint for preparing students to thrive in the global economy. That bi-partisan report espouses that today's economy demands not only a high-level competence in the traditional academic disciplines but also what might be called 21st century skills. Here's what they are:
Knowing more about the world. Mike Eskew, CEO of UPS, advocates being "global trade literate, sensitive to foreign cultures, conversant in different languages."
Thinking outside the box. Jobs in the new economy--the ones that won't get outsourced or automated-put an enormous premium on creative and innovative skills. As such, students must learn to think across disciplines, since that's where most new breakthroughs are made.
Becoming smarter about new sources of information. In an age of overflowing information and proliferating media, students need to rapidly process what's coming at them and distinguish between what's reliable and what isn't.
Developing good people skills. EQ, or emotional intelligence, is as important as IQ for success in today's workplace. "Most innovations today involve large teams of people," says former Lockheed Martin CEO Norman Augustine. "We have to emphasize communication skills, the ability to work in teams and with people from different cultures."
The authors argue what many analysts believe. That is, to achieve the right balance between core knowledge and what educators call "portable skills"--critical thinking, making connections between ideas and knowing how to keep on learning--the U.S. curriculum needs to become more like Singapore’s, Belgium’s and Sweden’s, whose students outperform American students on math and science tests.
Classes in these countries dwell on key concepts that are taught in depth and in careful sequence, as opposed to a succession of forgettable details so often served in U.S. classrooms. Textbooks and tests support this approach. America's bloated textbooks, by contrast, tend to gallop through a mind-numbing stream of topics and subtopics in an attempt to address a vast range of state standards. Depth over breadth and the ability to leap across disciplines are exactly what teachers should aim.
These authors contend that teachers will, feel increasing pressure to bring their methods--along with the curriculum--into line with the way the modern world works. That means putting a greater emphasis on teaching kids to collaborate and solve problems in small groups and apply what they've learned in the real world. Besides, research shows that kids learn better that way than with the old chalk-and-talk approach.
Published one time for exclusively educational purposes. Resource for the compendium provided by How to Bring Our School Out of the 20th Century, provided by Time Magazine (New York: New York, Dec 6th, 2006), pp. 51-56.