kitchen table math, the sequel: the 4 Cs at the Celebration

Saturday, March 17, 2012

the 4 Cs at the Celebration

Judging by the program content at this year's Celebration of Teaching and Learning, "21st century skills" have won, and knowledge has lost. Although there was ceaseless talk of the "new Common Core," the Common Core standards were in all cases that I witnessed* assumed to be a synonym for 21st century skills. So game over, at least as far as the two unions are concerned.

The only good news (I guess) is that "the Partnership"** has finally decided what the 21st century skills actually are, just 10 years after making them up:
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Communication
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity
The four Cs.

There was universal agreement amongst the participants that the 4 Cs cannot be tested.

* I'm guessing this workshop was different. I'll see if I can get my hands on the Powerpoint.
**tech companies, the NEA, and the Department of Education


Barry Garelick said...

Sounds like a happy day for everyone then. The key skills are those that cannot be tested.

Glen said...

How to Measure Anything: Finding the Value of Intangibles in Business

I've used some of these techniques professionally in mathematical models. This is a serious book about a technical topic of great practical significance, not your typical business fluff.

Of course, if your main problem with measurement is how to evade it, this book is the last thing you need.

palisadesk said...

Well, I'm not so certain that the 4 C's "cannot be tested."

Why not?

If you can put together an operational definition, outline what each "C" should look like in practice (with examples and non-examples), it ought to be possible to evalauate and measure them. A multiple-choice machine-scored test would not likely be a practical tool, but other means of evaluation could be developed.

"Creativity" would be the most difficult, I think, because there would be wide disagreement on what constitutes "creativity." There are already tests of "creative thinking" measuring aspects such as ideational fluency.

Indeed, the "Cs" could be outlined in such a way as to include important skills such as clear written expression in various genres, mastery of conventions of written language, ability to read and analyze complex written text -- you name it. I'm not sure where mathematics skills could be woven into the fabric, however. Preferably NOT under "creativity" in the earlier phases.

I see it as a potential opening for guerrilla instructivism. Heh heh. Subvert the system -- teach a kid!

ROPE said...

Ahhhh, you would be wrong Palisadesk. Out here in Oklahoma, we too have succumbed to discussing the use of a little something called the "Creativity Index", that was apparently all the rage in the news several weeks ago.

States Exploring a Creativity Index for Schools

It will be important in the 21 Century, to make sure (just like the Communists do it in Red China) we use every opportunity possible to identify little minds by some kind of index or test which will (just as Marc Tucker envisioned) pigeon-hole a child into a future job.

This will be done early on - probably by the middle grades - after which schools will ultimately take the lead in directing children toward their indexed/tested outcome with the help of the useful idiots in state legislators who listen to - and follow the directions - of their very powerful lobby - the Chamber of Commerce.

After all, isn't this about GROWING OUR 21st CENTURY ECONOMY? We can't possibly do that without the 'human capitol' necessary to drive those economic engines can we?

SteveH said...

How about testing a school for 21st Century Skills? They could start be creating a decent school web site and keep it up-to-date. Virtually all sites I have gone to have teacher pages that are empty. It's rare that you find the school handbook or the course listings online.

As for creativity, anybody can be creative. Ideas are cheap. Innovation takes skills, knowledge, marketing, and the willingness to risk your own money or the ability to get others to risk their money. Creativity is big because educators think that it somehow shows how our education system is better. They can't define it, but they will take credit for it.

Catherine Johnson said...

The key skills are those that cannot be tested

A point that was made over and over and over again.

Catherine Johnson said...

Glen - glad to get the recommendation.

I've been cruising that book for years now!