I’m enrolled in a couple online workshops to learn more about the International Baccalaureate Program and yesterday had to watch the this Tedx Talk by Dr. Heidi Hayes Jacobs who asserts that the current curriculum is preparing kids for 1992.

It’s a fairly short talk but full of ideas and suggestions such as more authentic assessments and certainly much more use and evaluation of technology in schools. She also, rightly so, claims that most textbooks, especially Social Studies but also Science are outdated. She claims that all newspapers are outdated because they are last night’s news and the world has moved on. I suppose she said this for dramatic effect to illustrate her point — but I couldn’t help but feel a little tinge of fear of equating 21st Century learning with the idea that anything more than a few hours old is dated…

When people talk about 21st Century learning they usually mean we need way more teaching and learning about technology and globalization. I whole-heartedly agree. I also think there is a place for the traditional academic disciplines, their collective knowledge and especially their ways of thinking and doing. I wish we wouldn’t throw that out when we talk about 21st Century Learning.

That is the beauty of concept-based curriculum and disciplinary thinking. It allows us to honor the work and discovery of the last several millennia as we embark upon this new one.

As many experts such as Karlyn Adams point out, you can’t be creative or innovative withOUT expertise in at least one area.


So while I whole-heartedly agree with everything Dr. Jacobs says, I just want to highlight the importance of things like scientific ways of thinking, mathematical reasoning and conceptual understanding of justice as pillars of teaching and learning, 21st Century included.