A Place for the Humanities in the Digital Age

In the 1950s, C. P. Snow famously argued that academia had separated into two cultures — the sciences and the humanities — with no commerce between them. As both a novelist and a scientist himself, Snow shuttled between the two worlds, and lamented that they did not combine forces to solve problems neither was equipped to address on its own. In our time, a separation between the sciences and the humanities is asserted on practical grounds: economic life is dominated by technology, which r...
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At the Intersection of Creativity and Critical Thinking

Creativity and critical thinking sit atop most lists of skills crucial for success in the 21st century. They represent two of the “Four Cs” in  P21’s learning framework (the other two being communication and collaboration), and they rank second and third on the World Economic Forum’s top ten list of skills workers will need most in the year 2020 (complex problem solving ranks first). The various lists of 21st-century skills grant creativity and critical thinking such prominence in part be...
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Integrating Cognitive, Social, and Personal Competencies

Educators have come increasingly to recognize that student success depends on more than content knowledge and skills alone. After all, learning is unavoidably fraught with setbacks and discouragements, so personal traits, like “grit” and “growth mindset,” are needed if students are to keep at it. Likewise, the pursuit of an education doesn’t take place in isolation but in concert with others — so social skills, such the ability to cooperate in a group setting, are vital for success as well — e...
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College As Culture Shock

The standards-based education reform movement, kicked off by A Nation At Risk in 1983, has been around long enough now to start showing results, if it’s going to. Unfortunately, there is not much evidence that this path is leading anywhere good. The latest Nation’s Report Card, based on National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) testing, shows that twelfth graders in 2015 weren’t any more ready for college than were twelfth-graders in 2012.  Likewise, students in 2012 didn’t make pro...
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Authentic Learning Requires Authentic Assessment

If project-based learning were to form the core of curricula in American schools, our problems with large-scale standardized testing would become even more pronounced than they are now. This is not a reason to forego project-based learning, of course; rather, it's a reason to find a better way to test. We do need, and will continue to need, large-scale assessments, despite the many dissatisfactions we may have with them at present. Local assessment by itself doesn’t tell us what we need ...
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