Wednesday, April 29, 2009

21st Century Skills -- From an Unexpected Source

Educators and politicians have been touting twenty-first century skills since the late twentieth century. On occasion the descriptions resonate with the audience, at other times they fall flat and leave listeners confused. I encountered an example of how these skills can intersect in a wonderful video.

The producers of the video have a simple mission: spread world understanding and peace through music. On the surface it can be dismissed as a “very nice thing to do” without a passing thought. On a deeper level it opens the door to multiple avenues of learning for students. Watch the video and think about these things:

Where are the performers located geographically?
What are the political situations in those locations?
What are the economic and social conditions?
What do these people have in common?
What do you think about the mission behind the message?
How will the internet facilitate the communication of the organization’s goals?
What tools were used to create this collaboration?
Would the “cause” have been as interesting if it were presented in simple written form?

It is the last questions, in my mind, that highlight the reason behind incorporation of “21st Century” skills into curriculum. Reason and understanding cannot come without mastery of fundamental skills learned by all students (reading, writing, arithmetic, etc.), but the conveyance of what is learned and created with these skills is the focus. The “new” skills and tools enhance the message; they also enhance the process of learning and understanding.

"Stand by Me" performed by musicians around the world from SKAT on Vimeo.

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