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21st Century Learning: The Access Question


  1. Thanks for your story Aerin. There is so much to comment on, but I would like to pick up on a couple of your threads. First, I think that the word progressive has become contentious in some circles. There are those who are fighting for the idea that schools should be a place where students are well-versed in basic skills before moving into the deeper thinking, inquiry, collaboration and project-based learning that you describe.

    I, for one, think that, while many of those basic skills are, in fact, essential, they can be learned in the types of educative environments that you describe.

    I think that “access” is a great metaphor to use. So much is packed into it, including the whole equity issue which is hinted at in your piece.

    I think that the realization that students are able to engage in rich and complex learning tasks outside of “regular” school time is a great place to begin re-imagining the role of schools, teachers, curriculum–all the familiar trappings of the traditional schoolhouse. Perhaps we have more access than we think we have. Perhaps its just a matter of “legitimizing” some of the other possibilities that now exist for us.

    Much more to think about. I look forward to further conversation!

  2. I appreciate the attention to 21CL vis-รก-vis ‘gifted’ kids! So far as I’m aware, there is /no/ empirical validation for 21CL as a pedagogical frame suited to ‘high-ability learners’. It simply hasn’t been taken up within that field. In OECD + MoE texts, ’21st-century skills’ are equated with ‘work skills’ and ‘vocational skills’. That isn’t quite the ‘bottom line’ that most ‘gifted’ programs aim for … but for everyone else? No problem!

    Further speaking to questions re. access, note in 21CL docs that there’s /no/ attention to consumption patterns? IOW, everyone is constructed as equal consumers of tech and media? But this isn’t the case: Girls use tech differently than boys. And why? Where’s the social analysis? Likewise, do all ethnic groups use tech similarly? How about all age groups? etc.

    21CL is full of these gaps and essentializations. That being the case, I am glad that educators in Canada are holding the agenda up for further scrutiny.

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