Provost English & Technology Blog

My P.E.T Project

Week 4 Application – The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

Posted by mprovost on January 27, 2010

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

Part of this week’s learning was to review the website for Partnership for 21st Century Skills and critically evaluate their mission, the members of the partnership, and the various resources available on their site” (Wolsey, 2010).  My first reaction was a myriad of expletives ranging from “WOW!” to “What the heck!?”, the first being excitement that such a partnership of resources existed, the second being shock that something as rich and informational as this is not being shared and showcased within my state or school district.  The website states “to become a P21 Leadership State, a state demonstrates commitment from the governor and chief state school officer and submits an application to P21 that describes the state’s plan to revise standards, create assessments and implement 21st century skills professional development programs”; how is it that Massachusetts and Maine are involved but New Hampshire is not? (Partnership for  21st Century Skills,  2004).  According to Infosys CEO Nandan Nilekani, “the playing field has been leveled,” and people are able to compete for jobs from all over the globe; given Maine and Massachusetts’s commitment to the partnership, are my students going to be able to compete even at the local level? (as cited in Friedman, 2005).

Though I was drawn into the information, graphics and endless resources this site offered, what surprised me was how tech savvy one would have to be in order to fully process what is being made available.  Perhaps savvy is not the right word, but at the very least, technology integration and digital literacy may have to be one of your passions in order to successfully navigate through and evaluate all the pdf files, videos and links.  In Curriculum 21: Essential Education for a Changing World, author and educator Heidi Hayes Jacobs mentions that the Partnership “is a tool that has become a common reference point for many organizations. As a general organizing framework, it does not purport to provide the specificity necessary for direct applications in a school, and for this it has been roundly criticized,” (Jacobs, 2010).  Perhaps this may even explain a bit of the disconnet I am experiencing. 

What I did find ironic is that the educators I really want to expose to this shift in thinking are the ones that would not even attempt to utilize all that is here.  As recent as this morning I was in a meeting aimed at making systemic (and much needed improvements) in our RTI model for struggling readers, yet at my mention of implementing a wiki so our task force to communicate outside meetings, I was met with sneers, eye rolls and outright opposition.  The resources and data shared by The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, though rich and research-based, may give me the “fuel” to fly, but without the “airplane”, I still feel stuck on the ground.  

 The Framework for 21st Century Learning

Though I don’t “disagree”, one thing I do question is the visual presence of the private corporations invested in the partnership.  On the one hand, I am inspired by corporate America’s buy-in and dedication to 21st century skills and literacy within education, but on the other I worry how commercialization and brand marketing may impact a national education initiative.  Walt Disney World?; I suppose I can’t rant about lack of funding and then complain about brand marketing all at the same time. Another concept that is difficult for me to navigate is how to make sense of the relationships between The Partnership, ISTE, ISFI, etc.  Which site or organization is at the top of the food chain? Which is most closely linked with the policy makers of our national government?

As a contemporary educator, I feel enlightened just having been introduced to The Partnership and the available information that may help me to navigate change within my curriculum, district and hopefully state.  If there were a term coined for “one who persists in following links”, that would be me; this site led me on so many different paths and put usable resources within my reach.  Having printed off the “Framework of 21st Century Learning” and the “P21 Framework Definitions”, I already feel a bit more “fueled” to address technology integration within my school. 

The 21st Century Standards have positive implications for my students. The use of “real world data, tools and experts” supports moving forward with dynamic problem solving and critical thinking as opposed to antiquated examples and graphics from text books (2004).  In some states digital textbooks, or flexbooks, are being piloted; “Some praise the technology as a way to save schools money, replace outdated books and better engage tech-savvy students,” (Surdin, 2009).  In addition, the idea of building understanding “among core subjects as well as 21st century interdisciplinary themes” encourages a blend between the past, present and future (2004).  For my students, being able to critically evaluate these concepts while utilizing 21st century skills is not a standard or ideal, but a necessity.


Friedman, T. (2005, April 3). It’s a flat world, after all. The New York Times. Retrieved from

Jacobs, H. (2010). Curriculum 21: Essential education for a changing world. ASCD: Alexandria, VA.

Surdin, A. (2009, October 19). In some classrooms, books are a thing of the past. The Washington Post. Retrieved from January 27, 2010.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills. (2004). Retrieved from January 25, 2010.

Wolsey, T. (2010). Week Four Application. EDUC-6710D-1 Understanding the Impact of Technology on Education, Work, and Society .  Retrieved from


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