Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Taking the First Step
If you pick up almost any educational journal today or read educational blogs you will inevitably come across the term 21st Century Skills or 21st Century curriculum. Yes these terms have been around for a while and I do find it a bit strange that the popularity of this term has grown some ten years into the 21st Century. What is true is that in today’s society perhaps even more so than 10 years ago things are changed at a much faster rate. The cell phone, computer, or even I-pad you bought today will be outdated in less than a year. This means that we as educators have to address this ever changing world we live in. Heidi Hayes Jacobs in her book Curriculum 21 says the following, “As educators, our challenge is to match the needs of our learners to a world that is changing with great rapidity. Therefore the skills of the 21st century focus on problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, design, and leadership. Perhaps Stephen Covey in his book “The Leader in Me” said it best, “Factual knowledge alone is thus no longer the great differentiator between those who succeed and those who do not. Instead the individuals who are emerging as the new "winners" - the new thrivers-of the twenty-first century are those who possess above average creativity, strong analytical skills, a knack for foresight, and surprise surprise good people skills."
Therefore we need to be looking at and updating what we are teaching. This is true in Judaic Studies as well. Today with the Bar Ilan Cd and a like, students have access to all the Torah and commentaries they need. What we need to be teaching them is how to think, question, and analyze what they have read and learned. We can’t begin to update our curriculum until we clearly state what we are currently doing.
On Monday we took the first major step in moving towards addressing the needs of our 21st Century learners. We established a wiki so that the teachers can put down in detail what they are teaching. This is a major undertaking by the faculty. However the reaction I got was overwhelmingly positive one teacher said, ““This is a great idea and it makes me actually think about what I teach.”
We still have a long journey a head of us but often taking the first is the hardest and today as a faculty we took the first step on a journey that will help prepare our students better for the world that they are entering into.