Do you remember how Sesame Street was always about a certain letter to teach the children? The same idea applies to 21st-century learning. My summer mode seemed more like the‘soft skills’ and intentionally teaching students 21st-century skills… well.. there didn’t appear to be anything SOFT about this type of learning. The students and teachers will tell you flat out that it is darn hard work! Labelling 21st-century skills as “soft” gives an illusion that they are easy to learn, that there is not an urgency to learn them.
The thing is we are ALREADY 18 years into the 21st Century! At our school, every single teacher works hard every single day and is exhausted... yet our hard work still left the majority of us not seeing a shift from summer mode in the students. Summer mode was happening all year long!
A large majority of students quit when things got tough, preferred to work alone as it was “too hard working in a group”, and were satisfied with rote regurgitation of learning. When asked to think deeply the room was usually silent or dominated by a select few. Our teachers felt there was a sense of urgency to develop problem solvers and thinkers. After all... these students were going to become our future! And our future needs students to be able to handle a challenge-citizens who can think outside the box. Students who can create things not yet invented to solve real-world problems. Students who can co-construct collective knowledge and not be afraid to connect with others in the community and around the world for support. Notice the “c words” jumping out? Our world needs these kinds of students and citizens. Students who have the confidence to know they can make a difference.
Stay tuned for part 2 of Theresa's "Say WHAAAT?" article!