Posts Tagged ‘21st Century’

EDCI 506 The Changing Purposes of American Education Week # 12

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

The Changing Purposes of American Education

 Are schools remaining relevant in the 21st century?

Schools in the 21st century are forever changing, but yes, are remaining relevant.  We talked about in class how education usually tends to sway with the times, and currently we are on a science/math/technology trend that is pushing educator to make substantial gains in those specific areas.  The textbook states, “the goals of education must be relevant to the times,” which is essentially what is happening (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 429).  Our society and social forces are driving us to attempt to outperform other nations in areas like science, math, and technology, which is why that is a big focus in education today.  According to the textbook, 15-year-olds in the United States performed lower than their peers in “twenty (math) and fifteen (science) other industrialized nations” (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011, p. 424).  The only way to attain the goals of becoming more proficient and essentially the best in math, science, and technology is to learn, and one of the main means for learning to take place is in the schools.  Today more than ever, more people are going to college and attending higher education programs, in order to continue learning and to achieve greater things than the people before them.


Should pedagogy change?

Personally, I do think that in certain areas pedagogy needs to change in order for schools to be preparing students to live and work successfully in the 21st century.  I think that much of what goes on in the classrooms today is rote memorization and just basic understandings of complex topics; education tends to brush the surface level, but what we need is to get to the core.  In the next chapter of the textbook, 21st century skills is a topic for discussion, which brings in a lot of pedagogical ideas that will help prepare our students for the 21st century.  The three overarching skill sets are learning and innovative skills, information and technology skills, and life and career skills (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  Learning and innovative skills, for example, involves being creative and having critical thinking and problem solving skills; our teachers need to use teaching strategies that allow for students to develop these skills (Ornstein, Levine, & Gutek, 2011).  A pedagogical way to incorporate those skills is to have a lot of problem-based learning, where students are given a problem, maybe even one that is applicable to real life, and they are to solve it in cooperative learning groups.  This way students are learning to work with others, to develop critical thinking skills, and problem solving strategies (Trilling & Fadel, 2009). Lessons and pedagogy do need to change in order to be current with societal goals and expectations.


What are your thoughts about allowing students to take control of the content and helping them to make meaning and create knowledge from it in multiple forms, styles, and media?

Like Dewey, I think it is very important for students to make meaning from knowledge and to connect it to what they already know.  I also believe in some structure within the educational system in order to guide students’ learning experience; coinciding with that idea, the teacher must have some control in order to try and make experiences meaningful and set up in a way that will help develop future experiences (Dewey, 1938).  I think if we allow students to take total control of the content, than we are essentially promoting a Montessori based educational idea.  Although I am very intrigued by the idea, I think that if I were a student in elementary, middle, or high school that I would have just played and who knows what I would have learned.  I do, however, think it is very important for students to be able to experience knowledge in multiple forms and styles.  It is important for students to be exposed to a variety of educational forms, including media and technology, to figure out what type of learner that they are and what strategies work best for them.  One of my goals as a teacher is to create students who are self-regulated, and a way to help foster that is to expose students to many different forms of knowledge.


How can schools engage students in meaningful projects that focus on creativity and apply the content students are learning?

I believe that there are many ways in which students can engage in meaningful projects that combine and apply creativity and content.  As mentioned, I think it is a good idea to incorporate a lot of project-based learning into the classroom in order to students to be engaged in a problem based in the real world while focusing on solving the problem in a creative and new manner.  Another extremely interesting way to engage students in meaningful projects that involve creativity and content is to have an ongoing assignment with students from another part of the country or world.  Students will be more excited to complete the assignment because it will be an experience totally new to them.  We are living in a technology world, so students may use technology to communicate; they will have to be creative in thinking about ways to share ideas and to communicate with one another.  An example of this would be to have pen pals in another state, this way students are learning writing skills, particularly how to write a letter, and are creating topics to discuss with their friend from another place. This is a great website created by a Denver Art Museum that has lesson plan ideas that are supposed to spark creativity in students.  When you go to the website and search under lesson plans, it allows you to choose your grade level, type of lesson, what type of skill you want your students to learn, etc.  The lessons appear to be very diverse and include a variety of different cultures, which is one reason why I liked this website so much.




Dewey, J. (1938). Experience and education. New York, NY: Touchstone.

Ornstein, A.C., Levine, D.U., & Gutek, G.L. (2011). Foundations of education (11th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.

Trilling, B., & Fadel, C. (2009). 21st century skills: Learning for life in our time. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.