21st century skills = cliché for school « reform »?

I’ve justed discovered Willy Kjellstrom‘s blog and right away, I was captivated by his post, What’s in a word?.

Excerpt #1
[21st century] skills are not unique to this century. Superficially, I doubt many would be convinced that it was unimportant for students to be creative or (fill-in-the-blank with a 21st Century Skill) in the 90s, 80s, or 70s. If you look at the skills in isolation, I am certain bygone teachers would say, “Yeah, all of those were emphasized to a certain degree during my era.”
What is different is the context in which the phrase 21st Century Skills and all of the skills and literacies appear.

Excerpt #2
The emphasis and need to attend to 21st Century Skills (or Survival Skills as Wagner calls them) is ever more important now because the world is quite different. The context imbues the words and phrases that Tim [Stahmer] believes are now trite cliches with enhanced meaning and urgency, a semantic flavoring that is unseen when examining phonetic words on a printed or digital page in isolation. Yes, creativity-collaboration-problem solving-communication-critical thinking were important before, but the shifting landscape of work and life in this era adds a level of imperative gravity to the skills.

Right on! This time, it’s for real. Not just another fancy edu-marketing term for superficial school pseudo-reform.  It’s transformative in nature, both in an organizational way and in an intrinsically pedagogical way.

The key will be the roll-out plan.


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