Sandy Stotsky decries the 21st century skills movement’s “[e]vidence-free rhetoric in support of reducing academic content in the schools” in The Weekly Standard (full article not available online).
Stotsky’s reviewing Tony Wagner’s new book, The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need — And What We Can Do About It. Wagner’s the co-director of the Change Leadership Group at Harvard. His latest book contends that American students would score just as high as their peers abroad on international tests if they received a skills-centric education.
Wagner’s claim stands in stark contrast to the evidence. Common Core’s own Why We’re Behind report – which reprints dozens of pages from other nations’ curricula, standards, and assessments – showed that these countries emphasize a full curriculum, including history, foreign languages, civics, and the arts. Not very much in the way of skills.
Wagner is in distinguished company, though, as Stotsky points out that the skills Wagner believes are critical to student success are also being promoted by groups like P21 which have “no recent record of interest in strengthening the academic content of the school curriculum.” Wagner’s book is essentially a companion to P21′s skills framework. He’s just about as serious about content knowledge as is P21: he devotes one page to it out of 288.
Stotsky calls The Achievement Gap “just the current manifestation of the goal driving most of our education schools and professional development providers–how to reduce the academic content of the curriculum while claiming to enhance it–this time in the name of closing the ‘gap,’ or providing worker bees for this century’s employers.”
Yeah – we noticed.