Taking the First Step Towards a 21st Century School

If you pick up almost any educational journal today or read educational blogs you will inevitably come across the term 21st Century Skills or 21st Century curriculum. Yes these terms have been around for a while, but what is true is that in today’s society perhaps even more so than 10 years ago things are changing at a much faster rate. The cell phone, computer, or even I-pad you bought today will be outdated in less than a year. This means that we as educators have to address this ever changing world we live in. Heidi Hayes Jacobs in her book Curriculum 21 says the following, “As educators, our challenge is to match the needs of our learners to a world that is changing with great rapidity. Therefore the skills of the 21st century focus on problem solving, critical thinking, creativity, design, and leadership. Perhaps Stephen Covey in his book “The Leader in Me” said it best, “Factual knowledge alone is thus no longer the great differentiator between those who succeed and those who do not. Instead the individuals who are emerging as the new “winners” – the new thrivers-of the twenty-first century are those who possess above average creativity, strong analytical skills, a knack for foresight, and surprise surprise good people skills.”

Therefore we need to be looking at and updating what we are teaching.  What we need to be teaching them is how to think, question, and analyze what they have read and learned. We can’t begin to update our curriculum until we clearly state what we are currently doing.

Last week our school we the first major step in moving towards addressing the needs of our 21st Century learners. We established a wiki so that the teachers can put down in detail what they are teaching. This is a major undertaking by the faculty. However the reaction I got was overwhelmingly positive one teacher said, ““This is a great idea and it makes me actually think about what I teach.”
We still have a long journey a head of us but often taking the first is the hardest and today as a faculty we took the first step on a journey that will help prepare our students better for the world that they are entering into.


  1. Kirsten Surprenant said:

    “We established a wiki so that the teachers can put down in detail what they are teaching. This is a major undertaking by the faculty.”

    What a great idea. While I have a good sense of what my fellow HS colleagues are teaching I don’t know the day to day stuff. I know that I would get so many great ideas especially about how they work with the same kids I have in my classroom.

    January 24, 2011
    • Kristen,
      Thank you for your comment. I must admit the wiki was established by the Dean for the entire school. The goal is to have it done for K-12 in both Judaic and General Studies

      Thanks again for your comment

      January 25, 2011
  2. Doug Njaa said:

    I think a wiki is a great first step. My desire at my high school is to get our entire learning community (students and staff) to embrace technology and such things as social networking in a way that enhances learning and promotes inquiry. I also want our school division to be the “door-openers” rather than the “gatekeepers”. I am responding to this post with an iPod touch and I know many of my students have similar tools and want to connect more within our school and outside the school proper. I am responding at my home in the evening because I can and I still want to learn even though my official work day is over – I think the same is true for many of our students. Thanks for this and this definitely encourages me as I lead in my own school.

    January 25, 2011
    • Doug,

      Thank you for your comment.
      You make some great points and yes learning today is not bound by time or classroom walls. We have also taken on a Tech initiative but that has not caught on with some of our faculty which was why I was so surprised ( in a good way ) when they took so quickly to the wiki’s
      Thanks again for your comment

      January 25, 2011
  3. Can you share the wiki with us.

    I am doing something similar in my district in an attempt to help vertically align the math curriculum.

    January 25, 2011

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