What really matters in 21st century education?

This week I stumbled across a New York Times article by Tom Friedman, that stopped me in my tracks. I shared it on Twitter, I retweeted it, I took the time to email the Harvard educationalist who featured in it and now I’m blogging about it.

In the article, Tony Wagner, Innovation Education Fellow at the Technology & Entrepreneurship Center at Harvard, discusses the importance of an education that makes every child ‘innovation ready’ and not just ‘college ready’. Why? Well, because the workplace – scrap that, the world – has changed and is forever changing. Job security is not what it used to be, new jobs are being created all the time and existing ones are disappearing into the ether too. Chances are, many of the children we teach will work in jobs that don’t exist yet. The fact that information is at our finger tips also means that the ability to innovate, which Wagner defines as ‘the ability to solve problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life — and skills like critical thinking, communication and collaboration’, is absolutely vital – and what employers are looking for. Of course knowledge is important, but knowing stuff simply isn’t enough any more.

Reading the article couldn’t have been more timely for me: when we go back after Easter, I’m speaking at INSET about the Enterprise skills and the importance of embedding those throughout our curriculum and will now be giving out copies of that article for staff to take away. Also, as the national debate goes on about the narrowness of the new draft curriculum and how it is overloaded with the learning of facts, Wagner’s message may be more important in the UK now than ever. Whatever the outcome of the new proposed curriculum  and however many history facts I am obligated to cram into one school year, this quote from the article will stay with me and underpin everything I try to do as a teacher:

What you know matters far less than what you can do with what you know.

That sums up what is important in education in the 21st Century for me. What do you feel about this? What do you think is important in education in the current climate? Can you sum it up in a sentence? I would love your thoughts on this one.

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One comment

  • Education in the 21st century is all about teachers providing the ship for children to take on their journey of discovery

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