I don’t agree with education writer Alfie Kohn about a whole lot. He seems to think homework and grades are inherently bad. And that we shouldn’t say “Good job!” to a child when he/she bests a challenge (Kohn thinks anything implying judgment should be avoided). But when Kohn writes about 21st century education he’s a must-read. Kohn points out that 21st century skills advocates proceed by asking “‘What do our corporations need?’ and work backwards from there.” Kohn goes on, writing from the 21st century skills perspective:”We must never forget the primary reason that children attend school – namely, to be trained in the skills that will maximize the profits earned by their future employers. Indeed, we have already made great strides in shifting the conversation about education to what will prove useful in workplaces rather than wasting time discussing what might support “democracy” (an 18th-century notion, isn’t it?) or what might promote self development as an intrinsic good (a concept that goes back thousands of years and is therefore antiquated by definition).”
Alfie’s right. The college I attended had a Latin motto that translated to “Whatsoever things are true.” If we look at education through the 21st century skills lens, I guess that would have to be recast as: “Whatsoever things enrich corporate institutions.” It’s a shift worth contemplating.