This Too Shall Pass

It was bound to happen. Another school year and new buzzwords are a-flying. This go-round it has to do with 21st Century Education.

Cripe! In schools, we often are so inundated with the crises of the moments that we are lucky just to get through Tuesday education with our kids—let alone 21st Century Education. Now I am hearing buzzwords like “future-ready”, “globalization”, “globally competitive”, and “21st century”.

I have been in this business long enough to know that I can ride this new fad out. I’ve done it before. The way I figure it, there’s . . . let’s see . . . only about 93 years left in this 21st century thing. Yup, this too shall pass.

The NC State Board of Education’s Future-Ready Students for the 21st Century Mission and Goals have taken hold in professional discourse as we prepare the 07-08 school year for roll-out. I assure you it is not just in our school system.

Dr. Terry Holliday, superintendent of Iredell-Statesville Schools, keeps a blog. He also contributes a monthly posting to LeaderTalk. His most recent deals with the 21C conversation:

Our school system has surveyed staff and parents to discover the relative importance of the new state board goals. What we are finding is that while state and national business and political leaders continue to reinforce the notion that public schools are not adequately preparing the workforce of the future, many parents, local business leaders, and staff members do not share this sense of doom or urgency.

As school leaders, we are faced with translating changing requirements for 21st century readiness that call for more rigor, relevance, and relationships to our parents, staff, and students. In translating these requirements, we are expected to make changes in systems that have been in place for over 100 years.

While it is the most challenging work I have encountered in 35 years of education, it is also the most exciting work that I have done. We indeed are preparing messengers to a time that we will not see and cannot accurately predict.

I agree with Dr. Holliday that we have our work cut out for us. This one may stretch us like never before. As school leaders, we must ensure that our opinions on the topic of 21st Century Education are grounded in far-reaching worldview. Unless we are globe-trotting action researchers, that means we have to remain current with the literature.

As a courtesy, I chronicle my Recent Reads and Clippings from the Blogosphere as I study 21st Century Education. The literature, research and musings condition my worldview and support my positions.

The NC Department of Public Instruction is close to releasing a manual called “Field Guide to 21st Century Schools.” It points to relevant programs, initiatives, policies, best practices, etc that are taking hold in North Carolina Public Schools.

It collapses much of the emergent literature. It could give us a common lexicon and point of departure as we move forward with the conversation.

Or, it too could pass . . .

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