Saturday, November 22, 2008

Jay Mathews - A Surprisingly Sensible 21st-Century Report -

Jay Mathews writes for Washington Post. I wanted to analyze his personal writing style. What could I learn from him and his way of telling and sharing a story? Here is just a short insert copy-pasted.

Jay Mathews - A Surprisingly Sensible 21st-Century Report - "I telephoned Silva to express my concern that we differ on this issue, since she always knows what she is talking about and I sometimes don't. Our conversation reassured me. She has the same doubts I do about the loose and overheated way the 21st-century skills concept has been marketed, and the failure to give teachers useful guidance on what to do with it. She agrees with me that much of what is labeled 21st-century learning is not new, but represents what our best educators have been teaching for several centuries.

For those of you unfamiliar with this topic, here is what alleged 21st-century skills are: the ability to think creatively and to evaluate and analyze information. Does that sound futuristic to you?

Silva and I are also of one mind on the need to make sure this emphasis on analytical and critical thinking does not derail the national effort to make sure all students learn the basic content of the important disciplines, such as literature, math and science. Learning how to learn, one of the goals of the 21st-century skills movement, is fine, but it is not a substitute for being able to recall without resort to Google vital facts and concepts, like the causes of World War I, the usefulness of active verbs and how to calculate..."

The story continues. Go to Washington Post to read more but I add one thing more here to show what this story is all about.

They got money from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and now have 40 schools in nine states.

"Student learning at New Technology is designed to simulate real life and real work," Silva writes. "Instead of completing traditional worksheets and daily assignments, students are assigned periodic projects, often as teams, and must complete a combination of products, including written essays and practical demonstrations. Each project assigned to students is accompanied by a set of rubrics that measure a student's performance on fundamental skills, like writing, as well as criteria such as critical thinking, application and originality. Students receive multiple grades, one for each criterion, for each project."

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