Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Play and passion develop purpose

In Most Likely to Succeed, Preparing Our Kids for the Innovation Era Harvard education expert Tony Wagner with Tony Dintersmith contend that there are seven essential skills for kids to develop for future success:

1. Formulate good questions
2. Communicate in groups and lead by influence
3. Be agile and adaptable
4. Take initiative and be entrepreneurial
5. Effective written and oral communication skills
6. Know how to access and analyze information
7. Be creative and imaginative

And I might add another. # 8. Do good in the world

These skills are another way of talking about what educators call the Four C's of 21st Century skills:  collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication.

I would add: # 5. compassion.

These are great goals to strive for in educating students in and out of the classroom.  The trick in school is designing learning activities explicitly around these goals.

Presenting scenarios for humanitarian use of fuel cells (6-7's); preparing for a Show of Work on Hinduism (2-3's); coordinating a hunger awareness event (8th grade); running a "health clinic" for parents and buddies (Pre K 3) - these are examples of activities that build the kind of skills we seek.

The unspoken message is that teachers must possess all of these skills to model and prepare a nuanced and effective program.  There is no better way to say it: When Educators Make Space for Play and Passion, Students Develop Purpose.

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