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    21st-Century Skills: Ban It, or Rename It?

    Ohanian Comment: I put "rename 21st century skills" into Google and this is what came up. I didn't look at author but just started reading, enjoying the letter more and more. Then I got to the name, and grief washed over me. As someone says in an e-mail or a list nearly every day, "Oh, how we need Jerry now."

    Given Jerry's love of food, it seems appropriate that this happened on Thanksgiving Day.

    To the Editor:

    National Public Radio's "All Things Considered" used to have occasional segments in which the host and a guest would decide what terms had been so overused they should be forbidden. Right now, I'm ready to dump "global economy," "at the end of the day," and "chops," as in "he/she's got the chops."

    I was ready to toss "21st-century skills" until I was skimming your recent article on the topic and found it familiar-sounding ("'21st-Century Skills' Focus Shifts W.Va. Teachers' Role," Jan. 7, 2009). Then I decided we could keep the concept, but just rename it. Let's call it Progressive Education, or Digital Dewey, or The Reincarnation of William Heard Kilpatrick. Kilpatrick, one of John Dewey's colleagues, wrote "The Project Method" for the September 1918 Teachers College Record. Whatever we choose to call it, the idea describes a much healthier approach to education than "scripted curriculum" or "passing rate."

    It all brings to mind another term that falls in and out of favor: Plus ça change, plus câest la même chose.

    — Gerald W. Bracey
    Education Week


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