Saturday, March 24, 2012

ASCD part one: Global Competency

I am attending my first ASCD Conference this weekend as part of the "Press Corps". As a result, I will be doing my best to keep up with blogging and tweeting from the sessions I attend as well as the numerous conversations that will inevitably take place.

The first session I attended was one guided toward developing 21st Century Curriculum. There was a heavy emphasis on preparing our students for living in the 21st century but also on creating globally aware and competent students.

Much of the early part of the session was referencing the work of Tony Wagner and Heidi Jacobs. Both Jacobs and Wagner write and speak a great deal about creating globally competent students. Wagner even outlines the Seven Survival Skills that schools should be teaching. They are:

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
    • Are we as educators asking the right questions, or are we just concerned with the right answer?
  • Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
    • Are we providing opportunities for students to create and interact across various networks and groups of people?
  • Agility and Adaptability
    • When we strive to force kids to find the right answers are we stunting their ability to be adaptive and agile? Student naturally have these skills but lose them in the haze of bubble sheets and testing for the "right" answer.
  • Initiative and Entrepreneuralism
    • Do we allow students to drive their own learning and be innovative and creative? 
  • Effective Oral and Written Communication
    • When students write are we focusing on communication or the "rules" of writing? 
  • Accessing and Analyzing Information
    • Can our student gather information and make meaning of it? As the very definition of information changes are schools keeping up and preparing students adequately? 
  • Curiosity and Imagination
    • Will students be allowed to be curious and use their imagination in our schools? Many argue that schools aim to kill or crush these two valuable life skills. 
Some additional resources include:
My takeaways from this session:

The biggest takeaway I have is in reference to Wagner's Seven Survival Skills. I think there is a great deal of merit in the basic ideas within them as well as the potential hazards of not adhering to them. If we want to prepare better citizens and not just better test takers, we need to address many things. One of those things is the idea of global perspective and competency. Our students can not afford to be taught and live in a "bubble" with out an idea of global awareness. 
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