I attended the CUE-BC (Computer-Using Educators) conference a week ago on the occasion of a PD day. First up was keynote speaker Ian Jukes, a self-proclaimed evangelist for adapting schools to the “21st Century Fluencies”.
You can learn more about the 21stC Fluencies here but suffice to say Jukes pitched them as “critical thinking skills on steroids”, or something like that. In our digital era, Jukes posited, students training as tomorrow’s “digital citizens” need more than knowledge and basic competencies, they need “fluency” in five areas: information, solution, creativity, collaboration and media.
While a passionate advocate of such fluencies, Jukes is also something else – a committed teacher. And I don’t fault him on that level and, after all, he was presenting to an auditorium full of … teachers. And so his pitch was replete with references to “getting the kids to do” this and “teaching them to learn” that.
And therein, to my perception, rests a pothole in which the notion of 21st C Fluencies is spinning mud: it is predominantly oriented to teaching which is surely a hallmark of a conventional schooling system more at home in the 19th and 20th centuries than the 21st.
And more to the point, neither Jukes nor the 21st C Fluencies makes any mention or attempt to validate Self-Directed Learning (SDL), which is surely as important as any of the five fluencies on which they have built their house. SDL helps to gel a sense of self-responsibility that doesn’t come from years of sitting obediantly following a teacher.
So, I’m sorry 21st C Fluencies, but you need to do more homework. A good starting point is a thorough read of the recent series in the Globe and Mail on remaking post-secondary education. It had many excellent insights and examples, many of which referenced self-directed learning leading to self-responsible graduates who are increasingly valued by empoyers.
And though SDL can be, and is nurtured by many K-University teachers and administrators, it’s getting neither the recognition nor wider support it deserves. It’s time to shift this. The 21st Century is here. Ask the students.
For information on my book: Learn Your Way! SelfDesigning the Life You Really Want, Starting Now (2011) and to order a copy, go here.