The student paper at University High School emailed me recently, with very fine interview questions, following up on my visit there last week. Here is the Q&A from that interview, including my own first, first of many I anticipate, stab at providing my own list of 21st c. aptitudes.

1. In a nutshell, what is 21st century education?

21st century is education that recognizes and reflects the fact the fastchanging world and that the 21st century economy and workplace will be very different from the 20th century. In the 21st century, for success, we will all need to be able to know how to approach and solve complex problem; how to innovate, design, and create new products, services, and solutions; how to use a wide array of digital tools for our problemsolving and innovation; how to think critically and discriminate for accurate information as we consider the huge voume of information coming to us from the internet; how to communicate effectively; and how to successfully collaborate with people all over the world.

21st century education is also education that is attentive and responsive to the fast accumulating new knowledge about the brain, memory, and learning. 21st century schools are schools that are asking themselves, repeatedly, how they as a school think the 21st century is different, and asks themselves what they are doing to respond and effectively prepare students for the changing times.

You can also click here for the questions I think 21st century schools should be asking themselves.

2. What do you think are essential skills that students should take away from their experience from high school, beyond the material that they’ve learned?

1. complex problemsolving
2.quality questioning
3. resilient perseverence
4. analytical reasoning
5. skillful argumentation
6. creative innovation
7. responsible stewardship
8. effective communication
9. respectful collaboration
10. critical thinking.

Also look here for my collection of several different authors’ view of these aptitudes.

3. What do you plan to do with your research and observations on all the different schools?
Most of all, I intend to use the lessons I have learned from my research and observations so as to be a more effective, 21st century, school leader in my independent school administrative position. I also hope to find ways to share with colleagues my ideas and observations, so that they can be better informed and more aware of the great things happening at other schools, and use that information for the ongoing development of their own schools.

4. How did you get started on this project?/When did you decide to pursue this research?
You know, it just developed over the course of the spring and summer. Reading Daniel Pink’s book, A Whole New Mind, was a huge inspiration to me, really opened my mind to recognize we had to ask new questions about what and how we are teaching. When I learned last spring that I had a sabbatical year upcoming, I knew I wanted to use it in an intensive way to rethink and closely observe how schools should be changing to meet the fast changing new century. I also knew I wanted to be more internet savvy myself. I love to write, so the different strands came together into this blog.

5. How do you see your research benefiting other schools in the future?
I should say that it is my intent to have a very modest approach to this project; I know I want to learn more, and I want to grow in my understanding of and appreciation for 21st century education, and I want to be more aware of the “best practices” going on at different schools. I certainly hope that in my doing so and blogging about it, other educators can become more informed about 21st century education and best practices, and can then bring that information to their own schools for implementation. I’d love it if, as a result of people reading the blog and taking inspiration, more schools begin asking themselves what they should be doing differently to prepare students for a changing age, if more schools began using contemporary brain research, if more schools teach students to solve complex problems.

Speaking more particularly about my observations at Univerisity High School, I’d love it if more schools expanded their commitment to doing things like having debates about slavery in US History, having groups work on complex, multi-step physics challenge problem requiring innovative solutions and practical applications (physics), having groups compare and contrast two philosophical texts with the requirement that the group take a position that they are similar or different and defend that position (Russian Lit), having groups in French view a press conference by President Sarkozy at an online French news site, or having student groups plan an all-day school event in the city– all of which I saw and greatly admired at University HS.