It’s beyond sad that as a nation and around the world, we don’t look forward to the next year, we fear what comes next. Fixed pic.twitter.com/uUTmyNYBEa — lil zyrtec (@dorseyshaw) December 6, 2017 When I was a kid, I remember looking forward to the new year. We saw it as a new beginning—a chance to right wrongs and improve ourselves. But in today’s climate, too … Continue reading 3 Ways My Students Are Going to Save the World in 2018—and Yours Can Too!
Yesterday, President Obama announced a plan to revamp the
nation’s education system in a speech before the United States Hispanic Chamber
of Commerce–a group afflicted by historically low educational achievement
levels among minority youth.
While many are focusing on the president’s calls to expand investment
in charter schools and performance pay for teachers, plans that have met with
opposition from some teachers’ unions and public schools advocates, I’m
choosing to highlight–you guessed it–geographic elements of the proposal.
Obama’s language was replete with references to the global
economy and nationalistic appeals to prepare students for competitive success. He
stipulated the specific goal of leading the world in graduation rates by 2020,
citing this attainment as critical in a 21st century environment where
the growth in communications tools like the internet has brought opportunity to
many and helped level the playing field.
“Let there be no doubt,” Mr. Obama said. “The future belongs
to the nation that best educates its citizens — and my fellow Americans, we
have everything we need to be that nation (as quoted in the NY Times).”
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
article from eduweek.org.