The Partnership for 21st Century Learning cites itself as being the leading advocacy organization focused on infusing 21st-century skills into education which may very well be the case, but at first glance I could not help but think it was a very well disguised marketing tool for some of the biggest names in the technology industry. The founding partners of the Partnership reads like a veritable who’s who list of technology giants: Microsoft, Dell Computer Corporation, Apple Computer Inc. , AOL Time Warner, Cisco Systems, Inc., and SAP. Given this fact one just cannot help but wonder if there is some element of a bottom line influence tucked away somewhere in the goals of the Partnership.
Now placing my conspiracy theory to the side the website does offer a wealth of information related to the development of effective 21st century instruction, and it more than eloquently highlights the need for all elements of education, government and society in general to pull their heads out of the sand and take a more active stance in the promotion of relevant student learning. Despite the fact some of the information contained in the article bares resemblance to the words of other researchers’ articles, the information it does present should most definitely serves as a warning bell for education systems everywhere simply because if they do not heed many of the points addressed they do very well stand the chance of becoming, like they note, irrelevant to students’ lives and how they learn.
Now in terms of content and information value the Partnership’s P21 website, http://www.p21.org/index.php, does an excellent job in providing a relatively straight forward plan for what it believes to be a fully functioning framework for socially relevant 21st century instruction, whereby 21st century teaching and student learning combine to achieve 21st century student learning outcomes through the development of specifically needed skill sets and newly emerging literacies. Additionally there is a well developed plan for the inclusive planning of relevant instruction using what they term “21st Century Standards”, that being instruction which: focuses on 21st century skills, content knowledge and expertise; builds understanding across and among core subjects as well as 21st century interdisciplinary themes; emphasizes deep understanding rather than shallow knowledge; engages students with the real world data, tools, and experts they will encounter in college, on the job, and in life--students learn best when actively engaged in solving meaningful problems; and allows for multiple measures of mastery. (as cited from Partnership for 21st Century Learning, 2011, 21st Century Standards).
In conclusion the Partnership organization does indeed do a good job in bringing together the key players in education development, and is, I believe, successful in promoting a powerful vision of 21st-century education and ultimately highlighting the need for every child to experience success as citizens and future workers in the 21st century. Now in terms of the Partnership’s influence on my teaching and the educational outlook for the future, in a small way I would like to believe they are a slightly larger voice than mine and may be more apt to ‘grease the wheels of change’ thus leading to the subsequent loosen of educational purse strings through their advocacy – insert singing choir here – but in all honesty it will likely take more than a well crafted website to engineer dramatic and meaningful change in an education system in definite need of repair!