By Karen K. Garza, PhD
Here at Battelle for Kids, we have a rallying cry of “Let’s Do Better!” And we almost always follow it up with “For Every Student.” We have these messages printed on water bottles, hats, shirts, buttons, cards, pens, walls, and more to remind all of us of why we do what we do.
When I say, “…remind all of us,” I don’t mean just all of us here at Battelle for Kids. I mean all of us across the nation who are working to improve our education systems to realize the power and promise of 21st century learning for every student. It’s superintendents, teachers, families, school board members, principals, legislators, curriculum directors, state education officials, early childhood center administrators, camp directors, advocates, and everyone else who realizes the need to transform our systems to help our children.
They deserve it. Our children deserve an education that prepares them to thrive in our ever-changing world. They deserve experiences that teach them how to learn, how to develop their critical thinking skills, and how to creatively solve problems with others and communicate the results. They deserve the opportunity to develop skills and mindsets that will enable them to succeed in a workplace where over half the jobs they’ll hold during their career don’t even exist yet.
Yes, it’s important for students to learn history, language arts, math, science, and all those classic elements of a rigorous academic curriculum. And yes, we want them all to do well on standardized tests and the ACTs—as well as their capstone or cornerstone projects and portfolios. But more importantly, we want them to confidently go on to college or technical school, or into the workforce, or into the military, or wherever they choose to go next, fully prepared to thrive as citizens of this world.
To make this happen, we need to transform our school systems. We’re not talking about just tweaking and fine-tuning things. We’re talking about changing the entire system.
What knowledge, skills, and habits of mind do students need to develop before graduation?
What characteristics and supports do the adults in the district need in order to deliver experiences that purposely integrate rigorous academic content and 21st century mindsets and literacies?
What new district-wide conditions, processes, and practices will create equitable and enduring 21st century experiences for every educator and every student?
This might all sound daunting. It isn’t easy. But it needs to be done. And together, we can do it.
Want some help doing it? Email me. If I can’t help you, I’ll point you in the direction of someone who can.
By Karen K. Garza, PhD,
CEO and President,
Battelle for Kids
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