Monday, January 5, 2009

Happy 2009!

Happy New Year! After a bit of a hiatus, The Comp Book is back in action for 2009! Thanks for your patience.

We’re starting off the new year with one of our favorite topics: technology in education.

In today’s Washington Post, education columnist Jay Mathews discusses "this year's educational buzz phrase": 21st-Century Skills.

When President-elect Barack Obama introduced Arne Duncan as his nominee for secretary of education, he said, "We need a new vision for the 21st century education system, one where we aren't just supporting existing schools but spurring innovation." If we are to believe Obama's campaign promises, new technology will be an important part of work in the classroom—and in the White House. Word is, sometime this week (tomorrow, according to the BBC) Obama will name his Chief Technology Officer, a new cabinet-level position.

So, what is "a 21st-century education system"? Is it characterized solely by the technical demands and capabilities of our schools today, or is it more pedagogical than that? Mathews prompts his readers to ask if the 21st-century education is really a new concept or just another name for effective teaching.

A 21st-century education purportedly prepares students for a new and changing world, the world they'll encounter when they enter the workforce. But is that any different from what educators have always aimed to do in the classroom, i.e., prepare their students to succeed after graduation?

Is technology the only thing that defines a 21st-century education, or is there more to it than that? What are your thoughts?

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