Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Partnership for 21st Century Skills....Finding the Happy Medium

       I'm compelled by the vision and mission of such an advocacy of stakeholders as those affiliated with Partnership for 21st Century Skills.     The information on the site allowed me to understand the urgency to restructure our educational system and implement new policies that are geared toward a curriculum that correlates with the digital era in which we now live. 

      Statistically, the current system is not working.  Harvard School of Education's Pathway to Prosperity Project presented some alarming data that supports this statement.  (See page 22 of 52)
      Although I see myself as an ally of this reform, I'm compelled to disagree with any transition that doesn't advocate for a continuance of needed social skills and interaction outside of technology.  Will our future generations lose their love of outside play?  Will they be able to linguistically converse with their peers through old-fashion verbal communication?  Will families stop eating together or allow this digital era to divide us in our very own homes?  Will board games and family game night become non-existent?   Is there a happy medium?  If so, then how will we as educators, parents, and citizens maintain that balance?


  1. You raise a lot of good questions. I feel that a lot of children who are in middle school and up have forgotten how to play outside already. My opinion is that families who are really involved and care for their children will see to that these children will have a well-balanced home life. For the children who are not so lucky will probably lose the bonding time with their family, peers and the outside play time. As educators, parents and citizens we will all need to work together to make sure that the future generations have a well-balanced life. But how do we work together when a majority of our society is "all about me"? Everyone is out to benefit the individual and no one else. How do we go about changing this attitude?

  2. Great questions! I have to say that as both a parent and a teacher I push to have my kids together with family. Even with teenagers I make sure we have dinner every night at the table and that I ask each one how their day was and what did they learn in school. Any more I think parents just assume that the kids are fine and only become active parents when something goes wrong. By then it is too late. I often think that my students have lost the skill of talking to each other, in something other than a text that is, but we need to work on that as educators. I really agree with your thoughts in that yes we can have technology but we have to balance it out with good old fashioned family bonding time. I hope this is not something that we will have to fight to keep.

  3. Response to Cathrine

    Your question about children playing sparked memories of my childhood.

    Children playing with each other is a part of social development seen in humans and other animals.

    One thing that I remember the most is the use of our imagination and creativity. I put two clothes pins together and it became a airplane or a broom became a horse. Today's children would not come close to seeing an airplane made of clothes pins. The graphics of television, movies,and video games,leaves little to imagine about.

    Our language has been invaded by text-talk and the need to verbalize ideas seems to be waning.

    Thanks for the comments

  4. Great ending thought! As a health and physical education teacher I also worry about the lack of direct human-to-human communication and interaction. When I drive through the neighborhood streets, they look far different than the ones I grew up in. The difference being there are no children. They spend so many hours of their day on computers, video games and cell phones they rarely just go outside and play. It is evident that the technology we have now and will have in the future will support many of our daily needs and hopefully create a better world, but as you said we must not lose out on family dinners, conversations and outside play. We do need to find a happy medium in order to say healthy and connected on a deeper level then technology could ever provide.

    I really liked the articled you linked as well, the “Project Lead the Way” that started in New York is a great example of what more 21st century impactful jobs need to implement into our high school. By allowing the students to gain a head start into engineering and computer sciences will only increase the likelihood the students will continue their education in those fields after high school. The article even said eighty percent of students would follow up their studies in those fields in college. If we give the students a chance to start earlier in their careers, they will, but we need to provide that opportunity.

  5. What wonderful questions!

    I've lived in Alaska a majority of my life. I now live in Las Vegas. I discovered the "joys" of Facebook about 2 years ago. This was such a thrilling experience for me! Having traveled extensively and lived in many places, I wanted to track my friends and be a part of their lives. Facebook allowed me a glimpse of what they are doing while still feeling a "connection" to them. In 2009 I went home to Alaska for Christmas. I had not been home since 2007 and I was extremely excited. It was only a matter of time that I discovered most of my "friends" were by computer, not face to face. I even had some that I had not seen during the trip post a "great to see you" message on my Facebook wall. It seemed as if technology had made our friendships different. Last Christmas I learned my lesson. I focused on what was important, which was my family, and did not become offended when my Facebook friends were just that. Facebook friends.
    I, too, have noticed that kids are not playing as much as they should. Yes, technology is wonderful, but our kids are missing out on so many wonderful interactions. They are often locked inside of their homes watching television, or playing video games.
    All too often I have met friends for dinner only to find them texting or talking on their cell phones. And don't get me started about texting and driving! I have also played second fiddle to a cell phone conversation that has interuppted my face to face conversation with a friend.
    The happy medium between technology and real life interaction is people making the choice of putting technology on the backburner and sitting down with their family, coworkers, etc. Yes, we are moving into an exciting and inovative technologigal era, but I hope it is not at the expense of old fashion values.

  6. I love your points on how technology is actually hurting our students. I see it in my classes when I try to grade essays that are full of text and IM speak. I don't know how often I return papers for students to re-do, and they don't understand why I don't accept it.

    It does seem to me that our students cannot interact appropriately face to face. Just this past Friday (the 25th of March)my students were telling me that they would do more work in class if they could just use their cellphones to text in the answers.

    How do I respond to that?

    Yet, on the flip side, we do need to teach our students the 21st century skills so that they can compete in the job markets of today and tomorrow.

    Where do we draw the line between technology and basic social skills in a real world?

  7. You raise great questions! I find that many of my students today do not know how to play when we go outside to the recess playground - and they are in second grade. Many of my students lack social skills because they are not forced to interact with anyone - at home or elsewhere. Many students have video games and those are used instead of playing outside with friends or riding their bikes. This is not only creating a deficit in social skills, but it is creating a health problem as well. Many of my students are overweight and out of shape due to lack of physical activity.

    I agree that we need to find the happy medium between social skills and technology. We should find it soon, or there may need to be a social skills class being taught at the high school level

  8. You all might enjoy this video by researcher Sherry Turkle about her book, "Alone Together." Scary...