Two scholars who participated in Common Core’s panel about 21st century skills– NYU historian of education Diane Ravitch and UVA cognitive scientist Daniel Willingham –have now written blogs expanding on their critiques of P21. Last week Willingham talked about two assumptions that underlie P21′s work, which he deemed unsound. Now he’s found a third. Not only is P21 mistaken in believing that skills can be taught separately from knowledge and that teachers (like the rest of us humans) cannot possibly retain the amount of knowledge needed to conduct the kind of project-based learning P21 touts. But Willingham also finds that P21 confuses the ideas of experience and practice:
Practice entails trying to improve: noticing what you’re doing wrong, and trying different strategies to do better. It also entails meaningful feedback, usually from someone knowledgeable about the skill. This means that 21st-century skills like “working well in groups,” or “developing leadership,” will not be developed simply by putting people in groups or asking them to be leaders. Students must be taught to do these things. Read more here.
Ravitch has engaged educator Deborah Meier on the topic of 21st century skills in their regular “Bridging Differences” blog exchange in Education Week. Her debate with Ken Kay has left her wondering about P21′s intentions:
I have often written about education controversies, and in every case, one group of educators argues with another group of educators. In this instance, a panel of educators (me, Hirsch, Willingham) was debating a public relations executive. This seemed odd to me, and made me wonder about the movement itself. Is it an effort on the part of the technology companies to sell more high-tech hardware and software to schools?
Good question. Read more here. Lynne Munson