Partnership Lists Geography as a Critical 21st Century Skill

Most schools don’t teach the
history of educational reform in America; ironically, these
revolutions frequently push our country in new social, economic and political
directions. A report
from the Partnership for
21st Century Skills
addresses the need for new competencies among American
students, highlighting geography and geographic themes such as global awareness,
social and cross-cultural skills, and civic literacy.  The Partnership proposes a solution with
(surprise, surprise) educational reform.

The world’s economy and job
market demand workers with an understanding of the universal interconnectivity
between people and places. However, the U.S. government
still hasn’t demanded educational reform that will require this knowledge. The 21st Century Skills report
makes policy suggestions to globalize core subjects.

Geography can be the common
denominator between all subjects, emphasizing global, critical thinking skills
to complement a basic skills education. Geographic literacy is a crucial foundation
for a competitive economy. Vivek Wadwah from the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School,
commented on the importance of the report, and of geography awareness, in this

He contends that, “With a
‘globally illiterate’ population, the United States will not produce the
workers it needs to compete worldwide,” and believes that, “we need to teach
our kids geography more urgently than we need to teach math and science right
now…{kids} don’t understand the world.”

Right on!

Progress is being made in schools, though. Check out some examples of how 21st century skills are being
used in the classroom with Route 21, a
“one-stop-shop for 21st century-skills related information,
resources and community tools.”

Have you had any experience
with facilitating or participating in 21st century skills-based
learning? Model UN is fun way to integrate global themes into the classroom,
but can you think of other examples? Are
there any 21st century skills you feel do NOT translate well into
the classroom setting?

Let us know; we’d love to hear
from you!

5 thoughts on “Partnership Lists Geography as a Critical 21st Century Skill

  1. I agree that Geography is an essential 21st century skill. All businesses are making their way online. Once a business goes online, it is instantly a global business. It has the potential to reach customers anywhere. I agree Bethany that the U.S. government needs to demand educational reform that will require this knowledge.
    I think American has to play catch up in certain areas in the Internet age. The broadband speeds in Korea and Japan are much faster. I think the number of schools throughout those countries that have broadband access is over 90%. Many applications that can enhance classroom learning are built in flash.
    Thank you for bringing attention to this.

  2. Posted at
    The My Wonderful World blog recently reported on the Partnership for 21st Century Skills’ findings that geographic skills are necessary for American students to be successful in a global market. What does this mean for those of us in the classrooms? Imagine the day when geography skills are given the same importance as those of math and science. Imagine spending entire faculty meetings discussing geography test scores rather than math and science scores! Wait…not that one.
    Seriously, though, geography, properly taught, integrates all of the traditionally valued skills in school while preparing for the global marketplace. Let’s hope the next incarnation of education reform includes geography!

  3. Hello SoulTravelers3,
    So glad you enjoyed the post- I LOVED looking at your website and reading up on your travels!
    World travel is a great way to educate kids about geography and different cultures, but for families who don’t have the resources, travel blogs like yours allow kids to connect to the world around them.
    Reading first-hand experiences and stories is more interesting than reading from a text book; travel blogs themselves can be a great educational resource for kids and can complement a “21st century” classroom.
    Thanks for the post- good luck with the travels!

  4. Wonderful, thought provoking post! Thanks for the route 21 link, love it! As a family on an open ended world tour, we certainly value geography and learning skills needed for a 21st century global citizen.
    I am pleased that we can pass on some of that through the award winning non-profit that we volunteer through, Reach The World.
    They connect disadvantaged students with world travelers, but it is open to all and I know many homeschoolers use it too.
    I have always liked award winning teacher, John Taylor Gatto thoughts on the history of educational reform and the importance of experiential learning.
    We have learned so much about education in for the 21st century through our world journey with a child and have met and collaborated so many innovative educators through Web 2.0 resources like classroom2.0. We are happy to be giving back through Reach The World and Teddy Bears Around The World.
    I think there is indeed a huge shift going on in education!

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