Learning in the 21st Century

Posted by Jeff Cacek on 12/13/2013

"We are currently preparing students for jobs that yet exist, using technologies that haven't yet been invented, in order to solve problems we don't even know are problems yet."   -Karl Fisch,  Author of YouTube viral presentation "Did You Know?"

"There is a profound gap between the knowledge and skills most students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need in typical 21st century communities and workplaces."   -Partnership for 21 st Century Skills


 Schools have been operating in very similar fashion since the 19th Century in buildings that remain shockingly similar to their predecessors. In the 1800's, the purpose of the public school system was to turn out "obedient specialists" - people who could work in factories or in services industries. These schools were appropriate when manufacturing jobs were building our economy into the largest and strongest in the history of the world. But the foundations of our economy have changed and the skills required to be successful are very different.

Manufacturing jobs are no longer common in the United States. Jobs requiring repetitive tasks are few. The successful adult in the 21st Century economy is able to think independently on the job, is highly flexible, can collaborate effectively, problem solve and communicate well. Creativity and the ability to learn continuously are essential. Embracing the quickened pace of change while maintaining the ability to be innovative will serve our children well. These are an awful lot of skills that our kids will need to master in order to have successful lives. This will not happen if we focus on maintaining the way we have done school for the last 200 hundred years.

At North Park, we are making intentional, thoughtful and strategic changes to our programming and building to lead the way in meeting the needs of our students. While we still learn reading and math skills, we do so in many different contexts. The traditional math and reading curricula are still delivered, but much more is accomplished by our students in the typical day. We consciously expand our focus beyond the traditional to include the 4 C's of 21 st Century learning (communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creativity). Our students begin the mastery of these skills with the integration of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics into each day at North Park.

As we expand our programming to support the 4 C's, we recognize that the same old classrooms in which students are expected to sit down and be quiet will no longer suffice. This problem is being solved by the design and implementation of Learning Studios throughout our building.  We hope you will follow along to learn more about us!