That’s not what 21st century skills are and I’d argue that they include bigger ideas than a…
Mikala Streeter

Thanks, Mikala. I’d argue that your list has always been the purpose of a high school education. (At least when it’s been run as more than a mill to pass through 1000 students per building per year.)

Nothing particularly 21st century about “critical thinking”. In fact, I’d argue that my own old-skool education did as good or better at that.

Why? Partly because I can out-Google nearly anyone. No one taught me “skills” to match the ‘post-Google age’. Yet I’ve been fortunate to have been exposed to an extraordinarily wide set of knowledge frameworks and vocabularies. Thus, I’m as free to draw from the frameworks of organic chemistry, Capital Asset Valuation, or machine learning, as I am to draw from land surveying, Colonial history, or home wiring.

Googling abilities isn’t everything — without other abilities it may be nothing. Certainly I wish my own education had included much more about English composition and rhetoric.

But another thing I am very good at is checking the numbers. For example, nearly everyone fell for the “3 million homeless” figure. But a little framework knowledge, some back-of-the-envelope calculations, and an open eye made it obvious that the Google-able number was pure nonsense.

That’s critical thinking. Yet, again, 20th, 19th, or even 18th century ‘skills’.

To be sure, the 1999 model didn’t work for all students. To many were mind-numbed through what was being taught. And too many more are subjected to school that lags the explosion of knowledge in the real world.

Thankfully, we now have tools to do much better for all teens as individuals. And so we should.

To the extent that we do more for more students, that is a 21st Century objective we should all embrace.