The future depends on what we do in the present. - Mahatma Gandhi

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

The youth of today will be the workforce of tomorrow. According to Dr. David Thornburg, these students will need to be equipped with a "different skill set than was needed by previous generations." (Laureate Education Inc, 2008) Educators, society, businesses and politicians all know that in order to stay current with technological skills, and maintain a competitive edge in the global arena, that our students need to acquire 21st century skills. An organization called the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is an advocate for realigning education so that 21st century skills can be infused into the classroom curriculum.

Looking over the Partnership for 21st Century skills website, I was surprised to see the list of members that make up this organization. It is quite impressive. Members range from prominent educational book publishing companies like Pearson, to giant international software companies such as Microsoft. The website is easy to navigate, and has a wealth of resources. Many of the resources such as Standard and Assessment guidelines, and Information, Media and Technology guidelines created by Partnerships for 21st century skills, are downloadable and free, which is definitely a plus. Another nice feature to the website is that it also is linked to current articles and press releases regarding education.

Overall this website is a great resource for educators and administrators to use as a tool to get organized and started on integrating 21st century skills in the classroom. The Partnership for 21st century skills "has developed a unified, collective vision for 21st century learning that will strengthen American education." ("The Partnership for." 2004)

I did notice when reviewing the standards and assessments on the website that they seemed to be very generic, with not much detail provided.  If I was a school district wanting to follow the suggested pathways given on the website, as represented by an "arched framework" outline, to integrate 21st century skills, I would expect to have clear and concise information in this area, ready to be implemented instead of having to take additionaly time to recreate or align to standards from other sources.

The implications of converting the classrooms of today to ones that the Partnership for 21st Century Skills is advocating for will be positive for both students and educators. Student learning will be focused on learning "foundational skills", (Laureate Education Inc. 2008) which is essential for them to"not only survive, but thrive" (Laureate Education Inc. 2008) in the ever changing workplace of the future. Teachers will have a learning curve to overcome in learning new technological skills and aligning the new 21st century skills to standards.  Time and professional development opportunities will be required by school districts, and the tradeoff will be that teachers will become better digital citizens and gain greater confidence in using digital tools.

Ultimately, we are all responsible for ensuring the "success of our students, not only in school and work, but in life." ("The Partnership for." 2004)  By ensuring that teachers get what they need, such as equipment, training, and time; in return our students will get what they need, the skills for professional and personal success.  Education is always one of the first areas to recieve budget cuts, but it should be the last. Is education worth the expense?.  Let me ask you this, as you age, what skills would you like your doctor to have, how skillful would you like your lawyer to be?  The students of today are going to be the future citizens of tomorrow.  Lets invest in our future.

(2004) The Partnership for 21st Century Skills.  Retrieved from

Thornburg, D., & Davidson, H. Skills for the 21st Century (Luareate Education, Inc. 2008)


  1. Marcella,

    I think you hit the nail right on the head when you say that teachers will need time and professional development opportunities to learn how to use and implement the technologies that can help teach students the skills needed for the 21st century. My question is, who is going to pay for the resources and traings if schools are to incorporate technology into the classroom? It is hard for me to imagine that many districts in the country have enough money to purchase needed equipment, let alone pay outside companies to come in and train staff members.

    I think the U.S. government and state officials need to take a look at how money is being spent and figure out ways in which more funds can be given to schools to help equip them with proper technological resources. The research is out there; students who are taught via 21st century tools have an advantage and better chance of landing a higher paying job than their peers who were not taught the necessary skills needed to survive in the 21st century workplace.

    You are correct when you say that education seems to be the first area in which money and funds are cut off. How is this going to help prepare our students for the future? Education should be the last place we should look to cut off funds. To answer your question, in the future I want to see a doctor who was taught how to think critically, problem solve, and who knows how to be innovative. These 21st century fundamental skills stated by Dr. Thornburg need to be taught in all schools via the use of technology. We are one of the richest nations in the world, yet many of our school districts are so far behind the times. There needs to be a change.


  2. Marcella,
    You made your point valid when you stated, "Let me ask you this, as you age, what skills would you like your doctor to have, how skillful would you like your lawyer to be?" But doctors and lawyers do not acquire the skills by only researching the theories; they analyze, test, and attempt the skills during their training. Students need to be doing the same. The Partnership for the 21st Century does not outline how to integrate the skills they provide throughout their framework. Shouldn't a website dedicated to the promotion of 21st century skills give teachers examples of how to incorporate these skills? You even mention how, " I did notice when reviewing the standards and assessments on the website that they seemed to be very generic, with not much detail provided."

    Instead of a website flaunting it's corporate image to the world, they should focus on changing the future by providing examples of teaching these modern skills.

    I enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for the insight.

    Joshua Noel