TED Conversations

Scott Taylor

Superintendent , Kenilworth Public School District

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Schools must help children survive the technology era, not just be prepared for 21st Century Skills.

Schools adjusted to turn-of-the-20th Century changes by adapting curricula to keep pace with industrial and expansion needs. Science and mathematics were introduced on a greater scale and fused with the humanities (language and literature were the foundations of American curricula up until this point). Today’s response to the onset of media and information technology has been assumed by the 21st Century curricula movement (see The Partnership for 21st Century Skills for one of the best examples of the movement) and is working hard to influence how we prepare children for this new age. Prepare students to embrace new technologies we might, but how have schools and school districts changed the way they govern so that they combat the challenges 21st Century citizens will confront as this paradigm shift consumes our lives on the scale the industrial age and westward expansion did for 19th-20th Century citizens?

Maurice Elias and others talk about the profound challenge parents face in trying to raise self-disciplined, responsible, and socially skilled children as they confront the invasion of Facebook, Twitter, streaming video, and other omnipresent media in their lives. And while schools work hard to arm children and young adults with the tools they’ll need to be 21st Century citizens, preparation for the changing nature of our world appears to be lacking. American school systems must implement the same measures to support its charges to embrace a new information and media-rich world successfully. It takes more than skills preparation to foster success in a new world. Today’s citizenry must be given the same tools and protections yesterday’s citizenry was provided.

Schools should look beyond 21st Century Skills preparation (though important) and consider how they can create policy and adjust the way they govern their programs to provide the support children and young adults to not only be prepared for the information and media age, but to survive in this new world.

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