According to Ken Kay (former president of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills) and Bob Lenz, we face a crossroads with the implementation of the Common Core. We could focus on mapping the standards to curricula, or we could use the standards to transform teaching and learning. The authors cheer for the latter.
The common core can and should serve as a unique transformational opportunity for our nation’s teaching and learning systems. Educators who leverage these standards to teach and assess such competencies as critical thinking, problem-solving, and collaboration will lead the way to postsecondary and career success for more students.
They associate the second path with the 21st century and its attendant skills. Other details are unclear–for instance, what books they think would be good to read in literature and history classes.
But vagueness may be a 21st century skill in itself, if a satirical piece by Arnold Arons tells truth:
REPORTER: Dr. Platitudeford, how do you and your colleagues characterize the salient features of the instructional methods you advocate?
DR. PLATITUDEFORD: They are innovative, individualized, inquiry-oriented, performance-based, experiental, and unstructured.
Oops–this piece, “Educational Practices–An Expert View of Human Trends,” was published in 1973. (Hat tip to Richard Hake for bringing it to my attention a few months ago.)
Maybe we’re at a crossroads, but the two roads aren’t what Kay and Lenz suppose. Who knows what they are until we’ve traveled them a bit? There’s a chance, though, that they might be the well-worn roads of clarity and obfuscation.