Thursday, July 19, 2012

Evaluating 21st-Century Skills

 Delving into the website of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, one can easily become overwhelmed with the amount of information and resources available. While there is a plethora of information and resources to support educators utilizing 21st century skills in the classroom, the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, have created a user-friendly website. Navigating through the website is quite simple, it almost seems the websites and been created with the not so tech savvy individual in mind.  Yet, the website not only serves as a resource for educators, but as a source to clarify and discover teaching strategies to integrate 21st century skills.     

What I found to be most engaging about the Partnership for 21st Century Skills website, was how it helped clarify my understanding of 21st century skills.  So many times, we use educational jargon in our discussions without fully understanding all of the intricacies of the model.  The Partnership for 21st Century Skills provides information in a clear and useful manner that is easily accessible for teachers and other stakeholders. According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, today’s students need to move beyond the basics of the 3 R’s.  It is essential now that teachers emphasize the 4 C’s of 21st Century Skills (Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity).  The Partnership helps to synthesize this information into a manageable and useful tool for educators. In addition, the skill maps the Partnership for 21st Century Skills created helped to guide educators apply these skills within their specific content areas.  The final area I found useful were the best practices tools created by educators that implemented 21st century skills within the classroom.  So many times we speak of these concepts in theory, but to see an application helps educators generate ideas, which can subsequently be translated into their own classroom.

Although the Partnership for 21st Century Skills provides a number of resources and ideas that help support teachers within the classroom, I do have issue with a number of stances presented on the website.  The most concerning area, I found was the posting of statistics regarding how well schools are preparing students for the workforce.  Although I do feel that it critical for schools to instill character, values and basic social norms, schools are mirroring the desires of community stakeholders.  In the past, when schools have attempted to build in character education and other programs, the stakeholder’s object sighting that it oversteps into the realm of the family.  When schools attempt to instill accountability for behavior, attendance or timeliness, the stakeholders object and assert that the school is being unnecessarily biased towards a child.  Schools cannot be the lone facilitator for the moral education and academic education of children.  The burden of responsibility must fall upon all stakeholders and community members.                

 Reflecting upon the information from the website will help me to improve upon my own teaching practices.  I think that through further exploration I will be able to integrate 21st century skills in a more natural manner without it appearing forced or as an after thought.  By exposing my students to the 4 C’s on a more consistent basis, allows my students to be better equipped to participate in a global economy. When you integrate critical thinking skills and promote various forms of communication into the learning of students, you not only improve their global understanding but you also improve your practices as a teacher.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (2011). Retrieved from:

Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (n.d.). A report and mile guide for 21st century skills. Washington DC: Author. Retrieved from


  1. In your blog you stated, “When schools attempt to instill accountability for behavior, attendance or timeliness, the stakeholders object and assert that the school is being unnecessarily biased towards a child.” According to the P21 website, accountability, attendance, and timeliness are all important character traits that 21st century employees are expected to possess. I would go a step further and say that these character traits have always been the bedrock of success in the work force.
    Now, in a flat world, they may be harder to define because, culturally, we do not all hold the same concepts of proper behavior and timeliness. For example, in Mexico, “Do not be surprised if standards of punctuality do not meet your expectations. Time is a flexible commodity and start and finish times should be viewed as estimates,” (CDC Media, 2012). In South Korea, it is considered rude to leave the chopsticks in your bowl of rice or to pass food with the left hand (CDC Media, 2012).
    Because of these cultural differences in what we consider standard character traits, I believe it is more important for us to teach character traits in a broader sense. This would be an excellent opportunity to help students become more culturally aware. Perhaps the reason the stakeholder’s object to schools’ efforts in teaching accountability, attendance, and timeliness is that these stakeholders have differing views on what is considered acceptable.

    1. Jaime,
      I have found that when presenting statistics to prove a point, refuting bodies of statistics are often used to counter the arguments. I have found this especially true while I have been researching about the advantages and disadvantages of using cell phones in the classroom. For every argument I could find in support of the initiative, there were two or three more that raised questions about the dangers and problems that would (or could) occur.
      Perhaps the creators of the website wanted to save its readers time by including contradictory points of view on several topics to allow the readers to employ those ‘critical thinking’ skills the organization endorses. The readers would have to decide for themselves which statistics they support, rather than passively accepting the first piece of information read. I do agree with you, however, that it would make it hard for one to determine which point of view is actually then supported by the organization.

  2. Hi Jamie, I also like how P21 packaged up 21st century skills. We have been hearing about 21st century skills for a decade and most educators would say that they know what 21st century skills are, however if you asked them to name the skills they would rattle off a never ending list. I like how P21 describes 21st century skills and the importance of them in education today. This is the first time I have read about 21st century skill as the 4 C's. In our society today a never-ending list does not sell and is hard to promote to anyone especially teachers who like doing things the way they have always done things. Promoting the 4 C's is something that all educators will understand. In fact many educators incorporate the 4C's into their classroom already and don't understand they are teaching 21st Century Skills. I like how P21 put teaching 21st century skills in sellable package. They have also provided some great resources that provide real ideas on how to incorporate the 4C's into you current curriculum.