Welcome to Laurie Goodman's blog. I use this space to share news and opinions about education and schools in Ridgewood, the state of New Jersey and the nation, in addition to other issues I'm personally interested in. I invite you to share your thoughts, feelings, questions or opinions, too, by posting comments on any blog entry. Please observe basic courtesy -- keep your comments focused on issues, no personal attacks or bullying, please. Contact me directly at: lauriegood@mac.com

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Maybe what we need are a few more 19th century skills.

Following is a reprint from Diane Ravitch's Common Core blog. I like the reminder of skills we need today, lest we focus too much on 21st century skills. Any thoughts? (Click here to read the original post from 7/6/09)

The Partnership for 19th Century Skills

I for one have heard quite enough about the 21st century skills that are sweeping the nation. Now, for the first time, children will be taught to think critically (never heard a word about that in the 20th century, did you?), to work in groups (I remember getting a grade on that very skill when I was in third grade a century ago), to solve problems (a brand new idea in education), and so on.Let me suggest that it is time to be done with this unnecessary conflict about 21st century skills. Let us agree that we need all those forenamed skills, plus lots others, in addition to a deep understanding of history, literature, the arts, geography, civics, the sciences, and foreign languages.

But allow me also to propose a new entity that will advance a different set of skills and understandings that are just as important as what are now called 21st century skills. I propose a Partnership for 19th Century Skills. This partnership will advocate for such skills, values, and understandings as:

The love of learning

The pursuit of knowledge

The ability to think for oneself (individualism)

The ability to work alone (initiative)

The ability to stand alone against the crowd (courage)

The ability to work persistently at a difficult task until it is finished (industriousness) (self-discipline)

The ability to think through the consequences of one’s actions on others (respect for others)

The ability to consider the consequences of one’s actions on one’s well-being (self-respect)

The recognition of higher ends than self-interest (honor)

The ability to comport oneself appropriately in all situations (dignity)

The recognition that civilized society requires certain kinds of behavior by individuals and groups (good manners) (civility)

The ability to believe in principles larger than one’s own self-interest (idealism)

The willingness to ask questions when puzzled (curiosity)

The readiness to dream about other worlds, other ways of doing things (imagination)

The ability to believe that one can improve one’s life and the lives of others (optimism)

The ability to speak well and write grammatically, using standard English (communication)

I invite readers to submit other 19th century skills that we should cultivate assiduously among the rising generation, on the belief that doing so will lead to happier lives and a better world.

Diane Ravitch


Rob Lyons said...

This is a great post & a nice dig at the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. The argument is that skills can neither be taught nor acquired without prior knowledge and that skills and knowledge are interdependent. The Common Core panel discussion on 21st Century Skills can be found here:
Common Core panel on P21

I think it is important to hear both sides of the story here before deciding where we stand regarding 21C skills.

Anonymous said...


When are you going to run for BOE? Please. We need you.

Laurie said...

I agree, Rob. There are two sides to the conversation...One of my pet peeves is when people focus too much on skills, skills, skills...I hate the narrow "job training" approach to education.

Anonymous said...


It's 8/12/10 2:13pm from above.

I also think you should continue to serve on the BOE. When I saw my comment and realized it could be construed as "anti-Laurie" I felt I should clarify. I appreciate your commitment and for communicating with the community (that sounds funny, doesn't it!).

Laurie said...

Oh, thanks. I admit I did read it as anti-Laurie. Thanks for clarifying.

Rob Lyons said...

Without Laurie and her colleagues doing exceptional work at the BOE we would definitely be much worse off. I haven't heard much praise for their hard work lately. Maybe when my kindergartner graduates from high school I consider it. But for not thanks but no thanks.