Learning, Innovation & Tech

Bombs & Breakthroughs

21st Century Skills: A "thorny problem" in the classroom

CJ Westerberg, December 8, 2014 7:16 PM


Reposting due to renewed interest and traffic - A Classic from The Daily Riff

Video Below

Daniel Koretz, Professor of Education at Harvard, gives a balanced portrayal of the "thorny problem" posed when the need for teaching and learning higher order thinking skills clashes with the need for accountability through high-stakes standardized testing.

Koretz explains how schools are generally not very good at teaching higher order skills  - such as critical thinking and problem-solving  - because they are not only difficult to teach but they are difficult to test.  Koretz gives examples such as how most high schools' science  "experiments" are really "demonstrations," because they are "rigged" for the right answer, thereby disqualifying them as true experiments where outcomes are unknown. 

Video runs five minutes with a commercial.

Let us know what you think -


  • It should be well education for the students to learn the best in the class room. So i think now this the right time to to aware about our education system for developed.

  • chiranjeevi

    nice one

  • Daniel Thomas

    I have
    found an initiative that would address presented issue. The founders of this
    project are trying to make an interactive program enabling children to create
    animated cartoons with custom characters, self-dubbed voices, and own
    dialogues. In addition to entertaiment aspect, there is educational side of the
    project, as well. More speifically, children may discover the world around
    them, learn alphabets, solve basic mathematical equations , learn foreign
    languages, and work on pronounciation. This project has great potential to
    address current issues in education system.

    For more information about the initiative, please check the website of program's
    creators: http://cartoontist.com/. Also, there is a campaign for this project
    to get further funding options in order to add more features to the program. I
    have already made a small donation which in return provides a periodical access
    to the application. You can visit this website to join us and build an
    innovative way to educate our kids: http://goo.gl/mDpWl7.

    Please reply if you are interested in this solution or if you
    want to make a suggestion.

  • cjwesterberg

    Sounds like fun - I'd like to check it out further. Good luck with it !

  • Brian, think there are a number of initiatives that are addressing this issue:

    Check out Tony Wagner's book, The Global Achievement Gap. In it, Wagner cites some examples: College Learning Assessment (CLA); College and Work Readiness Assessment (CWRA); the ETS iSkills Tests; School-based Teacher-led Assessment Reporting System (STARS); among others.

    There are also more inquiry-based assessments. You may want to check out http://www.thedailyriff.com/articles/hacking-school-ratings-rankings-343.php and

    Also, will digital portfolios begin to tranform assessments? What is the work that a student can produce outside of a test?

    These are all examples but we are not there yet, for sure.

    Can anyone share their experience with any of the above assessments or have other suggestions?

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