by Sharon Crawford. She is a retired English/History teacher who taught at Orangeview Junior High, in theAnaheim Union High School District.
“School sucks.” “School is boring.” “I will never have a use for this information — why learn it?”
As a teacher in the state of California, I hear this every day from my students. I am given a curriculum that requires students to pass a multiple choice test on a series of standards in basically the areas of English and math, while everything I read from fellow educators agrees with what I know to be true — this does not give our children the skills they need to thrive in the world beyond childhood.
Employers and colleges both feel that they are not getting students that are prepared to be an active part of higher education or the job market, and they are right. Changes have to be made at the grassroots level – in the classroom and through the school boards. While most schools have been emphasizing skills that enable a student to do well on a multiple choice test because funding is tied to the success or failure of students applying this particular skill, student mastery of life skills such as creative problem solving, critical thinking, and communication in today’s technologically demanding world have been put on the back shelf. There is finally a glimmer of hope that this is changing — that higher thinking is not a lost art in America, and California in particular. This hope is found in the form of P21.
It is this hope that leads me to support the Our Future Now efforts to empower students to share their combined voices with the local school boards and city governments. We need to hear from those most closely affected – the future leaders and workers that will run our society soon. Even though this will impact students most directly, it will also shape the future of our country and our ability to participate in the global economy.
Our country has been gifted with an impressive array of talented people. We have been the innovative leaders in so many areas, and now is the time to apply that innovation and creativity to our most important resource — the minds of our youth. Bringing creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication skills back to the classroom may just save America.
Fighting wars around the world and freeing other nations from tyranny will not make a difference if we lose what America has always stood for at home. Students, parents, educators, and government leaders all need to stand together to effectively provide our youth with the education they need and deserve. Urging the system to listen to the voices of our youth will help make this happen.
Re-posted from the Voice of OC with permission by the author. by Michael Matsuda
On Thursday, June 27, 2013, the La Habra Elementary School District Board of Education passed by 5-0 a strong resolution to support the Partnership for 21st Century Education (P21).
Board President Sharon Brown stated, “Our superintendent, Susan Belenardo, has been aware of P21 for a couple of years now and has used concepts and materials from the website to help staff focus on and integrate the 4 C’s (Critical Thinking, Collaboration, Creativity and Communication) into our curriculum across grade levels and subject areas, especially during this past school year. This resolution further affirms and supports our ongoing commitment to help prepare all our students for high school, college, careers, and life in an increasingly complex, interconnected global world.
“We need to continue to move away from teaching to a multiple choice test to teaching the 4Cs so our kids are truly prepared for the challenges ahead. We need to support our teachers who are creating wonderful project based learning activities that are engaging, relevant and rigorous. Not only is this is the type of education that parents, higher education and business leaders want, this is the type of education that America needs if we are to stay competitive.”
La Habra is among a few Orange County districts (of which Anaheim Union High School District is one) that are taking a proactive (21st century framework) stance in anticipation of the New Common Core standards and assessments that are to be implemented beginning in the fall, 2013 and assessed in the spring of 2015.
On July 27, 2013, more than two hundred students from Orange County will join together to explore, define, and exchange information on P21 learning.
What is Partnership for 21st Century learning? It’s a national movement with 18 states as partners. It’s a set of principles that guide learning. And it’s also a series of approaches like project-based learning, inquiry-based learning, or design-driven learning that in turn need new ways of measuring what’s learned.
It’s youth, increasingly diverse, starting to shape the world we see through the questions we ask.
It’s new forms of literacies: financial, health, environmental, civic, media, and artistic.
And it’s partly what Orange County high school students gathered at Cal State Fullerton will articulate for ourselves, based on our visions of what we see of the present and the future.
The July gathering follows on a ground-breaking visit of California State Superintendent of Instruction Tom Torlakson’s May 2013 visit to Savanna High School (above) to see what P21 learning principles look like in action.
As the cohort of kids who’ve experienced P21 learning is still growing, the July meeting will be a way for these early path-breakers to reflect on best practices and build momentum student-to-student to help spread adoption of P21 in the rest of Orange County and the state.