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25 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on October 31, 2009
First off, thanks to the authors for writing a book that is applicable to teaching and learning. I've read 6 other books on 21st century skills topics and none have come close to providing models, examples, etc. on teaching and learning. In this book the authors spend less time detailing the changes in our world that are bringing an emphasis on "21st century skills" back to the forefront and more time on defining the skills and a learning framework to be used by educators in assisting students acquisition of these skills. The text details each "21st century skill" with descriptors of what students should be able to do. For educators, this is paramount in designing performance tasks and/or evaluating student performance tasks as actually being a "21st century skill." The authors then provide a learning framework or the "the project learning bicycle" and finish up with good descriptors of system changes to promote the implementation of their ideas. To sum up my thoughts, this is a book written for educational practitioners.

Dee W. Hartt, Ed. D.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on April 19, 2011
Where are we going? It is a good question and no one really knows, and many academics feel that we educators should be more aware of the uncertainties that face tomorrow's leaders.

I think that educators should be thinking of these uncertainties as well, and that this book (for me) was an interesting read looking at how students need to be trained to be better adopters of information and knowledge earlier in the learning cycle. This is happening as information technologies are leading this trend in many aspects, but the training of educators to better evolve classroom practices (many dated to antiquity) for the modern world. Individuals are becoming researchers with resources at their fingertips unlike any time in the past, and with technology automating a lot of tasks we "used to do" there is more time to devote to mental development.

I bought, at the same time, 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn (Leading Edge), and think that the two books make good companions as the other is a series of essays from prominent educators/philosophers that address this same issue from 14 other perspectives (the invited authors' viewpoints).

The book starts with a brief and basic discussion on eras of education from agricultural times to industrial into 1991 when the possible tipping point for the knowledge era was reflected in economics, and since 1991 we are all too familiar with the change technology is bringing into the world. The old SPSS statistics can now be generated within online calculators, with ease. Google scholar brings a wealth of literature into living rooms, and if that doesn't work there is likely to be a Youtube to support and develop understandings of the concept/ideas under consideration.

It is true, many hold on to the past. They may be correct at some philosophical level, but the fact is, the future is unpredictable and the changes the youth will face (the challenges they will encounter) require a new set of skills to approach the future will a successful mindset. And, if what I am writing is wrong - it is a good thing you are here reading this as you too can become aware of such pressing issues that are being discussed in education today. It's fine to have various views. Its best.

Highly recommend this book
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on October 18, 2010
I had an opportunity to hear Bernie Trilling speak when the book first came out. As a school librarian who sees every student in my school, this book has become a valuable resource for me and my library partner. This book provides a practical guide for reinvigorating teaching for the next generation. Each chapter lays out a foundation that supports teachers and students as we prepare them for a job that may not exisit yet, all the while reinforcing critical thinking & problem solving, communication & collaboration, and creativity & innovation.

We focused in on the Four Converging Forces that educators need to look at in addressing student learning and have adapted many of our collaboration lessons with teachers to include these skills. Chapter 3 focuses on many other digital literacies and Chapter 5 on how to prepare students for work.

The second part of the book takes all the theories and places them in a blueprint for practice within the school district. Any school system looking for a model of how to incorporate 21st Century Skills into their curriculum needs to reference this book. Practical ideas and implenetations that can be adapted to current core curriculas are included along with a DVD for professional development opportunities.

My copy is heavily tagged, underlined, and well-used.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
I had the opportunity to hear Charles Fadel speak recently, and he really impressed me. His basic theme was that American students are falling behind the rest of the world--particularly China and India--with regard to skilled workers. US students are particularly hurting in math and science performance, and that's where many of the best career opportunities will be in the next few decades. How do we address this? We need more emphasis on skills, not just knowledge, and on real-world relevance.

Thus inspired, I picked up a copy of 21st Century Skills. I wasn't disappointed. It's a highly readable book that asks us to embrace the need for change in education and learning. How can we get students to love learning while simultaneously ensuring that they are equipped to compete in the global economy?

After providing some brief historical context, the book examines what it will take to be successful as students, workers, and citizens in the 21st century. Digital literacy is one key component, but there is also a substantial emphasis on any number of soft skills: problem solving; teamwork; initiative; flexibility; and so forth. The authors proceed to advocate for "powerful learning," which is built on collaborative small-group learning--often revolving around a problem or project.

They conclude by describing how we can "retool" schooling to meet the human resource needs of the new century while creating an educational system that truly engages young people.

21st Century Skills is a must-read for educators, parents, managers, and government policymakers, but it also would be of interest to anyone looking to understand the ways in which our educational system needs to be modified to ensure that the US does not continue to lose ground globally in the education race.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on December 25, 2009
An informative book for any parent who is actively engaged in their child's education. If more schools had the kind of learning framework presented here, we could revolutionize education as we know it. So many of us faltered along the way because we were forced to learn in a system that didn't optimize our capabilities or support our learning styles. This book offers the guidance and vision within a comprehensive framework that can do both. We need this kind of thoughtful leadership now more than ever if we want to be competitive in the global environment.

Be sure to watch the DVD portion, it was so inspiring it made me want to go back to 4th grade..and that's the way our kids should feel about going to school every day!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 23, 2010
Trilling and Fadel provide a solid orientation to 21st century skills/global education. The book includes helpful definitions of what 21st century skills are, why we should care about the topic, and examples of what 21st century skills look like in the classroom. As a superintendent of schools in Massachusetts and chair of the Global Studies/ 21st Century Skills Committee (GS21), I have used the book extensively in my work. The GS21 group, composed of 30 superintendents, has read and discussed the book as part of a yearlong attempt to deepen our own understandings and provide advice to the field in Massachusetts: the book helped us accomplish both goals. Anthony J. Bent, Past President Mass. Association of School Superintendents and Superintendent of the Masconomet Regional School District.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
I read this book for a couple of reasons: 1) for my job, to promote an event and the author. I wanted to grasp the facts and anecdotes from the research and results unearthed by Fadel and Trilling. I found this easy to do - mainly because of the way in which they are presented. 2) for my personal life and situation. We have three teens and we know that their education is paramount to their success in life - what they learn now and how they learn to apply what they learn later. There are solutions discussed in the book - things people and communities and schools and businesses can do now. Even starting with local group discussions of four basic questions gets brains moving in the right direction. If you care about your children and their future. If you care about your community and its future. If you care about our nation and the world going forward in a mountain of unfathomable change, read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on April 6, 2011
21st Century Skills is a very readable and informative volume for anyone working in education. It provides an interesting historical overview of the role of education, and then tackles the why of teaching our children for the future. Part 2 details the three major skills: learning & innovation, digital literacy, and career and life skills. Appendix A provides a multitude of resources to support professionals, and the accompanying dvd contains 8 "living examples of classrooms and educational programs that are successfully developing 21st century skills and knowledge." Librarians may wish to pair this with AASL's (American Association of School Librarians) publication, Standards for the 21st-Century Learner in Action. This book does an excellent job of explaining what students need to have to succeed in their future.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on November 25, 2009
"....to the little girl in Santo Domingo, whose eyes will forever remind me that 'a mind is a terrible thing to waste.' "

May you, and the millions like you, find the dignity, happiness, and serenity you deserve, through the transformational power of education.

This powerful and personal memory ends Charles Fadel's dedication of the book he has co-authored with Bernie Trilling: 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in our Times. The slogan of the UNCF, a phrase redolent of that long and continuing struggle for civil rights in the USA, is an apt reminder of the critical role of education in building and maintaining a world in which every child has the chance to experience the joy of learning and a chance to take his or her life somewhere beyond mere survival.

The first point to make is that 21st Century Skills is a highly practical and down-to-earth introduction to the detail that underpins the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), the US-based (but determinedly outward-looking) organization focused on "...infusing 21st century skills into education." The book manages to offer a concise and accessible exposition of all the key issues, ideas and philosophy of P21. Anyone who wants all of that in a single, highly readable package would do well to seek out this book.

Fadel & Trilling take us through their definition of 21st century learning, through what they call `the perfect learning storm', namely a convergence of forces, as they see them, that should be causing us to re-think the shape and objectives of schooling today, through the full P21 set of 21st century skills, and through a series of pragmatic examples of P21 in practice. The objective is to meet one of the pivotal challenges of our time:

"The 21st century challenge for each of us is to build and maintain our own identity from our given traditions and from the wide variety of traditions all around us. At the same time we must all learn to apply tolerance and compassion for the different identities and values of others."

I like this because it accords with my own preference to view education primarily as a means for the reproduction and development of cultures, and only secondarily as a means for the maintenance of a society. Jerome Bruner has written:

"Man's intellect....is not simply his own, but is communal in the sense that its unlocking or empowering depends upon the success of the culture in developing means to that end."

Building and strengthening of culture is a process that happens from the ground up, while building and strengthening a society tends to happen from the top down. If one of the underlying tenets of P21 is to focus on the former, while not forgetting the importance of the latter, then I can only commend this attempt to describe the 21st century skills approach as one that teachers should, at the very least, take account of in developing their own teaching practice.

There are those who have tried to dismiss P21 as an endeavour whose primary aim is the creation of a `content-free curriculum', or even a `knowledge-free curriculum'. This is simply nonsense, and is indeed, at heart, malicious in its intent. P21 is about shifting the balance in the curriculum; it is not about deleting the experience of hundreds of years of formal education. As the authors say:

Teachers who are shifting their practices to meet the needs of our times talk about how they're remixing the coverage of content with the uncovering of ideas and concepts....

21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in our Times is, I believe, an important book, one that offers a clear, intelligible and comprehensive characterization of the essential features of the P21 approach. It is a book that I would commend to anyone interested in thinking through the relevance of education to children today and into the future.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Scraps of Life Book Club review:

21st Century Skills: Learning For Life in Our Times by Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel is a tutorial designed to help teachers in today's world teach children to function successfully in our modern society with all of its varied media communication options.

In the beginning of the book, the authors explain that children continue to be taught today in the same ways they were when the United States was an agrarian society. Children are taught a basic curriculum, tested to see if the information was absorbed, and then never taught to actually use this learning in an effective way in the modern world. The authors believe the ability to use information in conjunction with technology is as important as learning basic skills in math and phonics.

Using this method, children are taught to articulate ideas effectively using all forms of communication, listen attentively to decipher meaning, and determine the proper use of media technologies to share the information. This method also speaks to the needs children have in our more modern world to collaborate
with others and work respectfully in a team.

As a home school educator, I find the ideas proposed in this book to be very interesting. I can specifically appreciate their ideas regarding children learning to collaborate with others to complete a project with a specific end goal, and the importance of a challenging learning environment. After all, the simple fact is that we teach children in order to help them become adults who are contributing members of society, not to have a series of learning objectives checked off of a list.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is willing to think outside the box, educationally, and also to anyone who is struggling to understand why they can't seem to apply their very real employment skills to a job in 2011.

Check out our reviews by doing a search for SusieQTpies Scraps of Life.
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