Rob Riordan President of High Tech High GSE
January 17, 2013
|Photo credit: usacehq via flickr|
What should students learn in the 21st century? At first glance, this question divides into two: what should students know, and what should they be able to do? But there's more at issue than knowledge and skills. For the innovation economy, dispositions come into play: readiness to collaborate, attention to multiple perspectives, initiative, persistence, and curiosity. While the content of any learning experience is important, the particular content is irrelevant. What really matters is how students react to it, shape it, or apply it. The purpose of learning in this century is not simply to recite inert knowledge, but, rather, to transform it.1 It is time to change the subject.
This is no small matter. For more than a century, the whole point of schooling has been to restrict the curriculum, specify the required content, and limit the entry points to it -- often by means of a watered-down, already obsolete text, mediated by a classroom manager whose task is to transmit the subject matter to 30 or more individuals of diverse backgrounds, experiences, interests, and resources. This is particularly true of the "big four" core subjects that the Carnegie Commission decided, nearly a century ago, to be the subjects that matter. English, math, science (biology, chemistry, and physics), and social studies count for much, and the fine and practical arts for much less. .Read more.