The president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is responding to serious scholarly criticism of his organization’s agenda with spin and more spin. First he called the criticisms that Diane Ravitch, E.D. Hirsch, and Dan Willingham leveled against P21 a “sideshow.” That’s a strange way to refer to scholars who have authored and edited more than two dozen books between them. Then Kay produced a YouTube video in which he sits in front of a representation of P21′s infamous rainbow chart and misrepresents these scholars’ criticisms as touting “a false choice” between skills and content.
Ravitch, Hirsch, and Willingham never said skills weren’t important. They said the opposite: That skills are important and only can be successfully taught alongside content. Now Kay’s taking his barrage on the road with three presentations at the upcoming ASCD annual conference in Orlando. Kay is a master at saying things that sound true. Such as this statement taken verbatim from his YouTube video: “The truth is that 21st century skills and core curriculum are mutually supportive of one another.” So let’s just take a moment to discover how that “mutually supportive” relationship plays out.
On YouTube Kay touts P21′s work in North Carolina, in particular how they have reshaped teacher education in that state. Here’s a link to a lesson plan for K-8 teachers in NC seeking to advance their students’ understanding of goal-setting. It is called “Goals, Goals, Goals….” which I guess is an attempt at humor because if you want to follow along you’ll have to get a soccer ball. The entire lesson consists of getting a group of students to figure out how they can all touch the ball in the shortest period of time. They start by standing in a circle and, when the ball is tossed to them, giving one “feeling word” to describe how they feel that day. Then they just start coming up with ways to toss and touch the ball more and more quickly. We had an entire class dedicated to this type of activity when I was in school. It was called Gym–not English, Social Studies, or Math.
Tags: 21st century skills