Sara Truebridge

Educating The New Humanity: Educating Beyond 21st Century Skills

Parents are faced with an enormous task in raising today's child. The increasing economic burdens, the changing family structure, the additional demands on time, and the concerns of a safe environment all contribute to the challenge of raising a child.

As society has become more complex and parents' roles are challenged, so too are the roles of teachers.

Teachers have been trained to educate a child's mind. Teachers now find themselves not only dealing with the child's mind—the academic needs—but also with the child's physical, social, emotional, and spiritual needs. Furthermore, many parents are relying on teachers to provide answers to help develop these needs.

Parents and teachers are not the only ones responsible for educating our children. We have come to realize the important role that businesses and communities play in the education of our children. Their support and commitment towards education helps to shape our future.

Unfortunately, today's educational system has been scrutinized not only by many stakeholders in education, but also by our communities at large. Education has become a national concern. The diminishing level of confidence in our educational system has put education and schools "under the microscope."

At this time, it is no longer constructive to criticize our educational system without beginning to offer help. There is an earnest search by parents, educators, and all stakeholders in education for child-focused and developmentally appropriate resources that support children in becoming successful, independent, loving, compassionate, cooperative, happy, balanced, and contributing members of our world. This quest has led to a focus on "21st century skills," which has led to the emergence and development of The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21). The P21 mission statement reads: "To serve as a catalyst to position 21st century readiness at the center of U.S. K–12 education by building collaborative partnerships among education, business, community, and government leaders." It goes on to say the following:

Every child in the U.S. needs 21st century knowledge and skills to succeed as effective citizens, workers, and leaders. This can be accomplished by fusing the 3Rs and 4Cs.

There is a profound gap between the knowledge and skills most students learn in school and the knowledge and skills they need in typical 21st century communities and workplaces.

To successfully face rigorous higher education coursework, career challenges, and a globally competitive workforce, U.S. schools must align classroom environments with real world environments by fusing the 3Rs and 4Cs:

  • The 3Rs include: English, reading or language arts; mathematics; science; foreign languages; civics; government; economics; arts; history; and geography.
  • The 4Cs include: critical thinking and problem solving; communication, collaboration; and creativity and innovation.

I, too, would like to offer my help. It's my humble contribution to our children, youth, adults, educational system, and future. I don't think it is asking for too much. Here goes ... I respectfully and passionately ask those who embrace an interest in infusing our youth with "21st century skills" to reframe their thinking and to think bigger. Think beyond the limits of a number that represents a particular century. Yes, think bigger. Instead of limiting our vision to educating the 21st century, I suggest we transform our thinking, reframe our semantics, and talk about educating the new humanity.

Educating the new humanity focuses on global peace and cooperation rather than competition. Educating the new humanity focuses on moving from the "me" to the "we." Educating the new humanity focuses on the development of the whole child and the whole person—one who is nurtured and supported in all areas: physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual—so that he/she may become an independent, responsible, resilient, healthy, happy, kind, gracious, balanced, empathetic, compassionate, cooperative, collaborative, and contributing member of the world. Educating the new humanity is about providing all people with quality educational practices and developmentally appropriate resources and support that awaken and guide them as they discover the importance and explore the wonders of love, service, and beauty as a means to respecting and helping themselves, others, and the world.

Yes, I would like to offer my help by encouraging and challenging all of us to reframe our thinking, change our words, and move beyond a number. Let's not limit ourselves to educating the 21st century, but rather, expand our reach and focus on "educating the new humanity." It may just seem like a matter of semantics, but it's not. It's transformative.

Sara Truebridge is a consultant and researcher specializing in the area of resilience. She combines her experience and expertise in the areas of research, policy, and practice to promote success and equity for all. Her professional experience and leadership in the field of education, social services, and resilience includes work in the development and formation of new schools, curriculum development, staff development, school climate, student engagement, social-emotional learning, cultural responsiveness, early childhood education, arts in education, special education, and parent education. She is the author of Resilience Begins with Beliefs: Building on Student Strengths for Success in School and has consulted and given numerous presentations, webinars, and workshops throughout the United States. Connect with Truebridge on her website, Educating the New Humanity, and on Twitter @saratruebridge.

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