Aggregating Content is a 21st Century Skill

by Robert Pondiscio
March 4th, 2009

EdWeek’s Steven Sawchuk files a big 21st Century Skills piece off last week’s Common Core event in the new Edweek.  It’s well-worth reading if you’re new to the debate and looking for a straight, dispassionate take on the argument over P21. 

Diane Ravitch has lots more to say at Bridging Differences, and the reader comments, as always, have plenty of caloric value.  Here’s CK Blog contributor Diana Senechal, for example:

It seems to me that P21 wants to promote advertising skills more than critical thinking skills. Make a commercial of your favorite short story. Make a soundtrack and video display for a poem. Make a Venn diagram, using online “concept mapping” tools, to compare world religions….The worst projects promote a culture in which students are called upon to “sell” a work of literature or a snack (more or less side by side). Instead of delving into the language, they clip it and package it. Instead of studying history, they build their “financial literacy” by developing a strategy for selling snacks.

Joanne Jacob also weighs in with a lengthy recap of the ongoing debate;  Finally, a hat tip to Jay Greene, who provides comic relief with a 21CS spoof from The Onion:  An impossibly deadpan Fox News-style panel discussion on Are Violent Video Games Adequately Preparing Kids for the Post-Apocalyptic Future?  “The games make it all seem deceptively simple,” one panelist opines.  “A kid’s not going to be able to kill a six-foot long irradiated beetle just by pushing a few buttons.  He’s going to have to get down there with an axe and hack and hack and hack…”


  1. Thanks for bringing the Ravitch discussion and The Onion video to our attention. Both are delicious.

    Reading the comments at Bridging Differences, it dawned on me that this is a war that we (the core knowledge fans) may lose. The posts of those high-tech fundamentalists and well-meaning-but-underinformed lay people reminded me how few understand our arguments for making content paramount. It also reinforced my determination to speak out at my school –to do my small part to reveal the invidious effects of skills-mania.

    Comment by Ben F — March 4, 2009 @ 9:47 pm

  2. Robert, as usual I enjoy not only your commentary, but your titles. “Aggregating Content is a 21st Century Skill”–that had me laughing yesterday throughout the day.

    I am always struggling against forgetfulness, laziness, and gaps in my knowledge. I cannot take any part of my education for granted. But I know that I did just fine learning the tech skills later than many of my peers. I am considered a tech expert at my school. I have worked in the past as a low-level programmer and electronic publisher. All that stuff was relatively straightforward. Had I begun with it in school, I never would have learned the things that made it straightforward in the first place.

    Comment by Diana Senechal — March 5, 2009 @ 8:54 am

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Leave a comment

While the Core Knowledge Foundation wants to hear from readers of this blog, it reserves the right to not post comments online and to edit them for content and appropriateness.