AND REVENGE

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AND REVENGE

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OF POISON, POLITICS

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BY CIAUDIAWALLIS & SONJA STEPTOE

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D V L I I E T Y !

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( By CLAUidlA WALLIS and SONJA STEPTOE )
HERE'S A DARX LITTLE JOKE EXCHANGED BY EDUCATORS WITH

a dissident streak: Rip Van TVinkle atva1;ens in the 23st ceni 1 h y after a hundred-year snooze ancl is, of course, uttc:rIy beu i i xildered by what he sees. Meil and women clash about, talking I I i to sn~all metal devices pinned to their ears. Young people sit at 1 home on sofas, moving miniatwe aT11letes around on electronic screeas. Older folk defy death and disability wit11 mekronomes in their chests and with hips made of inetal and plastic. ?Y'iyol.ts,Imspitals, sllopping n~alk-every place Rip goes just baffles him. Bul when he finally tvallis into a school~~oom,~ e Inan kao~vs t I old exactly \vhere he is. 'This is a schooU' he declares. "M7e used to have these back in 1906. Only 1 0 1the blackboards are green." 11~
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Photographs for TIME by Jason Fulford and Paul Sahre

/ S O C I E T Y /

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Americanschoolsaren't exactlyfrozenin time, but considering the pace of change in other areas of life, our public schools tend to feel like throwbacks. Kids spend much of the day as their great-grandparents once did: sittingin rows, listening to teachers lecture, scribbling notes by hand, reading from textbooks that are out of date by the time they are printed. A yawning chasm (with an emphasis on yawning) separates the world inside the schoolhouse from the world outside. For the past five years, the national conversation on education has focused on reading scores, math tests and closing the "achievement gap" between social classes. This is not a story about that conversation. This is a story about the big public conversation the nation is not having about education, the one that will ultimately determine not merely whether some fraction of our children get 'left behind" but also whether an entire generation of kids will fail to make the grade in the global economy because they can't think their way through abstract problems, work in teams, distinguish good information from bad or speak a language other than English. This week the conversation will burst onto the front page, when the New Commission on the Skillsof the American Workforce, a high-powered, bipartisan assemblyof Education Secretaries and business, government and other education leaders releases a blueprint for rethinking American education from pre-K to 12 and beyond to better prepare students to thrivein the globaleconomy. While that report includes some controversial proposals, there is nonetheless a remarkable consensus among educatorsand business and policy leaders on one key conclusion: we need to bringwhat we teach ( and how we teach into the 21st century. Right now we're aiming too low. Com- . petency in reading and math-the focus of so much No Child L f Behind (NCLB) test- , et ing-is the meager minimum. Scientificand f technical skills are, likewise, utterly necessary but insufficient. Today's economy demands not only a high-level competence in the traditional academic disciplines but also what might be called 21st century ' skills. Here's what they are: Knowing more about the world. Kids are global citizens now, even in small-town America, and they must learn to act that way. Mike Eskew, CEO of UPS, talks about needing workers who are "global trade literate, sensitive to foreign cultures, conver- , sant in different languages"-not exactly strong points in the U.S., where fewer than half of high school students are enrolled in
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KIDS NEED TO LEARN HOW TO LEAP ACROSS DtSClPLINES BECAUSE THAT IS HOW BREAKTHROUGHS PIOW COME ABOUT. IT'S INTERDISCIPLINARY COMBINATIO~IS-DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY, MATHEMATICS AND ARTTHAT PRODUGE YOUTUBE AND MYSPACE
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a foreign-language class and where the social-studies curriculum tends to fixate on U.S. history. Thinkingoutside the box. Jobs in the new economy-the ones that won't get outsourced or automated-"put an enormous premium on creative and innovative skius, seeing patterns where other people see only chaos:' says Marc Tbcker, an author of the skills-commission report and president of the National Center on Education and the Economy. Traditionally that's been an American strength,but schools have become less daring in the back-to-basics climate of NCLB. Kids also must learn to think across disciplines, since that's where most new breakthroughs are made. It's interdisciplinary combinations-design and technology, mathematics and art-"that produce You%be and Google:' says Thomas Friedman, the best-selling author of l WorEd Is Flat. h
'IllhlE. UECELlGER IS, 900(i

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8n -g stmrmr awur new sources information. In an age of overflowing infa

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mation and proliferating media, kids need to rapidly process what's corning at them and distinguish between what's reliable and what isn't "It's important that students know how to manage it, interpret it, validate it,and how to act on it," says Dell executive Kan Bruett, who serves on the board o ti f Partnership ror ZJS Centuxy Skills, a group of corporate and education leaders focused on upgrad edumb vevelopnggoodpeoples' or emotional intelligence, is as imf 'Q for successin todafs workplace. " ~ o smnot vations today involve large teams of people: says former Lockheed Martin CEO Nomi Augustine. 'We have to emphasize cornmunication skills, the ability to work in tear and with people from different cultures." Can our public scnoors, originally designed to educate workers for agrarian life and industrial-age factories, make the ne essary shifts? The skills commissionwill a gue that it's possible only if we add ne depth and rigor to our cuniculum and standardized exams, redeploy the dollars we spend on education, reshape the teaching force and reorganize who runs the schools. But without waiting for such a revolution, enterprising administrators around the countryhave begun to upaare their schoo often with ideas and support from loc bumnesses. 'l'he state of Michigan, conceding that it can no longer count on the ailit auto industry to absorb its poorly educatt and low-skilled workers, is retooling w high schools, instituting what the most rigorous graduation requiremen in the nation. Elsewhere, organizations lil the BiU and Melinda Gates Foundation, the Carnegie E'oundaho~ dvancemei of Teaching and the ing money and expc grams to show the way.

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Quick! How ~ r l a r y WL you cornbi11~ nickels, dimes and pennies i That's thf laenrs m second-gr sattle's Job Stanford hternahonl School, and hands are flying up with answers. The studen sit at tables of four manipulating play moi ey. une my snouts 10plus 10";a girl offers "10 plus 5 plus 5," only it sounds like thi "Ju, tasu, go, tasu, go." Down the hall, mrdgraaers are learning n lnrerpret charts and , graphs showing how many hours of sleep zs people need at c l f i

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d m ~ un b&?" asks the teacher e I" ' Sabrina Storlie.
Tl~is~ublic elementaryschoolhas taken the idea of global education and run with it. A t students take some classes in either w Japanese or Spanish Other subjects are taught in English, butthe content has an intemational flavor. The school pulls its 393 students from the surrounding highly diverse neighborhood and by lottery from other parts of the city. Generally, its scores on state tests are at or above average, althou& those exams barely scratch the surface of what Stanford students1earn. Before opening the school seven ye& ago,principal Karen Kodamasurveyedl,SOO business leaders on which languages to teach (plansfor Mandarinwere dropped for lack of cIassroom space) and which skills and disciplines. "No. 1was technolo& she recalls. Even 6rst-graders at Stanford begin to use Powerpoint and Internet tools. "~xposureto world cuhures was also an important trait cited by the exe~utives,~ says Kodama, so that instead of circling back to the Pilgrimsand Indians every autumn, children at Stanford do social-studies units on Asia, Africa, Australia, Mexico and South America. Studentsactively apply the lessons in foreign language and culture by videoconferencing with sister 5chools in Japan, Africa and Mexico, by exchanging messages, gifts and joining in charity projects. Stanford International shows what's possible for a public elementary school, although it has the rare advantage of support from coiporations like Nintendo and Starbucks, which contribute to its $L7 d i o n - a year budget. Still, dozens of U.S. school districts have found ways to orient some of their students toward the global economy. Many have opened schools that offer the international baccalaureate (I.B.) program, a rigorous, off-the-shelf curriculum recognized by universities around the world and first introduced in 1968-well before globalization became a buzzword. To earn an I.B. diploma, students must prove written and spoken proficiency in a second language, write a 4,000-word college-level research paper, complete a real-world service project and pass rigorous oral and written subject e m . Courses offer an internationalperspective, so even a lesson on the American Revolution will interweavesources h m Britain and France with views from the Founding Fathers. 'We try to build something we call international mindedness," says Jeffrey Beard, director general of the International Baccalaureate Oxganizationin Geneva, Switzerland.'These
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a e stuaentswno czm grasp issues across nar tional borders. They have an understanding of nuances and complexity and a balanced approach to problem solving.? Despite stringent certificationrequirements, I.B. schools are growing in the U.S.-hm about 350 in 2000 to 682 today The U S Department of .. Education has a pilot effort to bring the program to more low-income students.

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Learn the names of all the rivers in South America. That was the assignment given to Deborah StipeKs daughter Meredith in LOCATE INFORMATION, SORT . school, and her mom, who's dean of the Stanford University School of Education, THROUGH IT QUICHLY AND, was not impressed. m a t ' s silly," Stipek told her daughter. 'Tell your teacher that MOST IMPORTANT, if you need to know anything besides DETERMINE WHICH SOURCES the Amazon, you can look it up on Google.? Any number of old-school assignrnentsARE REL1ABl.F AND WHICH memorizing the battles of the Civil War or the periodic table of the elements-now ONES AREN'T seem faintly absurd. That kind of information, which is poorly retained unless you routinely use it, is available at a keystroke. -- -..-Still, few would argue that an American child shouldn't learn the causes of the Civil War or understand how the periodic table reflects the atomic structure and proper- - -.- .- .-- ...- - .- ..- .?., . - -.- . ties of the elements. As school critic E.D. Hirsch Jr. points out in his book, 2 % Knowledge Deficit, kids need a substantial fund of information just to make sense of ..... - . ..... . . - - -.-.--reading materials beyond the grade-school level. Without mastering the fundamental building blocks of math, science or history, complex concepts are impossible. Many analysts believe that to achieve the right balance between such core knowl- tween supply and demand in economics. edge and what educators call "portable Amerids bloated textbooks, by contrast, skillsn-critical thinking, making connee tend to gallop through a mind-numbing tions between ideas and knowing how to stream of topics and subtopicsin an attempt keep on learning-the U.S. curriculum to address a vast range of state standards. Depth over breadth and the ability to needsto become more like that of Singapore, Belgium and Sweden, whose students out- leap across disciplines are exactly what perform American students on math and teachersaim for at the Henry Ford Academy, science tests. Classes in these countries a public charter school in Dearborn, Mich. dwell on key concepts that are taught in Thisfall, 10th-gradersinCharlesDershimer's depthandincareful sequenoe,as opposed to science class began a project that combines a succession of forgettable details so often concepts from earth science, chemistry, served in U.S. classrooms. Textbooks and business and design. After reading about tests support t i approach. *Countries h m Nike's efforts to develop a more environhs Germanyto Singaporehave exh-emelysrnd mentally friendly sneaker, students had to textbooks that focus on the most powerful choose a consumer product, analyze and and generative ideas:' says Roy Pea, co- explain its environmental impact and then director of the Stanford Center for Inno- developa plan for re-engineeringitto reduce vations in Learning.These might be the key pollution costs without sacrificing its comtheorems in math, the laws of thermo- mercial appeal. Says Dershimer: "It's achaldynamics in science or the relationship be- lenge for them and for me."

IN THIS MEDIA-DRENCHED ERA OF BLUGS AND PODCASTS, GOOGLE SEARCHES AND INSTANT MESSAGES, YOUNG PEOPLE NEED TO ACQUIRE A NEW SET OF LITERACY SKILLS THAT ALLOWS THEM TO

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TIhlE, DECEh4BER 18,2006

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four-year-old public schodl, which is Iocated in a repurposedhandbag factory. ClassesIiketh&which teachkeyaspects ' of information literacy, remain mre in pubIic education, but more and more universities and employers say they are needed as the world grows ever more deluged with , information of variablequality.Last yeaq in response to demand from colleges, the j EducationalTesting Serviceunveiled anew, computer-basedexam designed to meame infomation-and-comunication-technolo- i pv l i t e y . Apilot study of the testwith 6,200 high school seniors and college freshmen k.: -*+ found that only half could correctlyjudge the 9 h + d % objectivity of a website. "Kids tend to go to Google and cut and paste a research report together," says Terry Egan, who led the t a em that developed the new test. W e kind of -edth~gene~tionwas~-~le with technology that they know how to use it for research and deeper thinkingn says Egan."But if theyrenot taught these skills, they don't necessarily pick them up."

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The chairman of Sun Microsystems was up againstone of the most vexing challengesof modem life. a third-grade science project Scott McNealy had spent hours searching the Web for a lively explanation of electricity that his son could understand. "Finatly I found a very nice, animated, educational website showingelectmnszooming m u n d and tests after each section. We did this for about an hour and a half and had a ball-a great father-son moment of l d g . Al of l a sudden we ran out of runway because it was a site to help welders, and it thengot into welding." For McNealy the experience, three years ago, provided one of life's aha! moments: "It made me wonder why the= isn't a website where I can just go and have anything I want to learn, K to 12, online, browser based and free." His solution: draw on the Wrkipedia model to createacollection ofonlinecourses that can be updated, improved, vetted and buiit upon by innovative teachers, who, he notes, "are always developing new mateds and methods of instruction because thev aren't happywith what they have.'' And whb better to create such a site than McNealy, whose company has led the way in designing open-source computer software? He quickly raised some money, created a nonmade its profit and-voiB!-Curriki.org debut January 2006,and has been graving fast Some 450 courses are in the works, and about 3,000 people havejoined as mem56

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bers. McNealy reports that a teenager in means putting a greater emphasis on teachKuwait has already completed the introduc- ing kids to collaborate and solveproblems ic tory physics and calculus classes in M days. small groups and applywhat they've learned Curriki, however, isn't meant to replace in the real world. Besides, research s h m ~ ~ going to school but to supplement it and that kids learn better that way than with tht offer courses that may not be availablelocal- old chalk-and-taIk approach. At suburban FarminHon Hi& i ly. It aims to give teachers classroom-tested content m a t e d s and assessments that are Michigan, fAe engineering-technolo& de livelier and more current and multimedia- partment functionslike an engil'eringfim based than printed texhoks. Ultimately, it with teachers as project managers, a FOR could take the Web 2.0 revolution to school, Motor Co.engineer as a consultant and stt! closing that m g gap between how kids dents working in teams. The principles c learn at school and how they do everykhing calculus,physics, chemistry and engineerin il else. Educators around the country and are taught through activities that fl the hal: overseas are already discussing ways to cer- ways with a cacophony of nailing, sawin t f ( h d c i ' s online course work for Q F ~ iy and chattering. The d t : the kids learn t Some states are creating their ouftl on- apply academicprinciples to the real wod~ line couses."In the 21st century, ability think strategically and solve problems. the Such lessons also teach studentsto shu to bealifelongleamerwin, for many people, be dependent on their ability to access and respecf for others as well as to be pun& benefit fmm online learning" says Michael mqonsible and work well in teams. Tho: Flanagm, Michigan's superintendent of skills were badly missing in recently hin public instruction, which is why M i c h i ~ ' s high school graduates, accordingto a rn? new high school mduation requirements, of over 400 human-resource profession; which roll out next vear. include cornuleting. conducted by the4Wnership for 2 s Ce lt tury SMs. "Kids don't know how to sha at least one course onlide. your hand at graduation," says Rudd Crew, superintendent of the Miami-Da $ zqsf: : !:?;,j;:Tl , i f school system. Deportment, he notes, u Teachers need n t fear that they will be to be on thereport card. Some of the natic o made obsolete. They will, however, feel in- more forwad-thinking schools are bring creasing pressun? to bring their methodsit back. Ifs one part of 21st century edu along with the curriculum-into line with tion that sleepy old Rip would recogn the way the modern world works. That - w i i h ~ I * r ~ A . M i ~

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TIME, DECEMBER 18,2006

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the students-an ethnic mvr or ~ e Yorkers w with their own 9fll memories-dive into a The juniors in BiU Stmud's class are riveted discussion about the elusive nature of truth. by a documentary called Loose Change unRaya Hri h d s the vlaeo more conars spooling on a small TV screen at the vincing than the official version of the facts. Baccalaureate School for Global Education, Marisa Reichel objects. "Because of a in urban Astoria, N.Y. The film uses 9fll movie, you are going to change your befootage and interviews with building engi- liefs?" she demands. "Just because people neers and T i Towers survivorsto make an heard explosions doesn't mean there were wn oddly compelling if paranoid case that inte- explosions. You can say you feel the room rior explosions unrelated to the impact of spinning, but it isn't." This kind of discusthe airplanes brought down the World sion about what we know and how we 'Ikade Center on that fateful day. Afterward, know it is typical of a theory of knowledge

class, a required element ror an lnterna tional-baccalaureate diploma. Stroud I posed this, question to his blackboard: "If truth is difficu history, does it follow that all verslons an equally acceptable?" Throughout the ex arnine news reports propaganda history books, blogs, p songs. 'lit , goal is to teach kids to be discerning cc sumers of information and to research, f n views, say srroua, wno IS rounaer ana pnncipa or thc
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