Educational Editorial: 21st Century skills

By Dr. Bill Bosher, NBC12 Educational Specialist

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Last night, 16 school divisions from central Virginia gathered at the University of Richmond for professional development.

Ken Kay, President and Co-Founder of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, was the keynote speaker. His organization consists of companies, some of the most influential in America, and institutions that have banned together to promote the development of skills beyond the three R's: problem solving, creative thinking, entrepreneurship, and self-direction.

The discussion was an avalanche of common sense, validated in research, and enabled by the development of sound public policy.

The exercise began with a question, "What are the two-three biggest changes in society in the last 25-30 years?" You can imagine the answers: the internet, workforce requirements, increase in the pace of change, and family dynamics.

The second assignment was, "List two-three skills that your students need to address the changes in society that you have described." The responses included: accessing and analyzing information, communicating with those who are different, solving problems, and adapting to many different jobs.

The last question was, "Looking at your school or district, how intentional are you in helping your students to develop these skills?" WOW, perhaps more of a goal than a question!

Ken Kay's quest, now adopted in 13 states, is not about creating a new set of disciplines or courses but about using the content that we teach to develop skills that are critical to successful work, and living. Do you remember asking your teacher, "how will I ever use this?"... well this is the answer, and its coming to Virginia.

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