Book Review: The Leader’s Guide to 21st Century Education

Ken launched the Partnership for 21st Century Learning a decade ago to add the 4Cs–critical thinking and problem solving; communication, collaboration; and creativity and innovation–to the 3Rs.  He was successful at gathering corporate support for the agenda but it was slow to be adopted by school districts preoccupied by state testing programs.  However, the 4Cs agenda is picking up steam as a result of:

All that is to say, Ken was right–there are a bunch of non-academic skills that at least as much to do with life success as reading and math–and a lot more of us have figured that out ten years later.
Ken Kay and co-author Valerie Greenhill take importance of 4Cs as a given in their new book, The Leader’s Guide to 21st Century Education, and they address what they think is a more pressing question–How do we make it happen?  They think the answer is leadership.
Channeling Covey, Kay and Greenhill uncover the 7 secret steps to school leadership:

  • Adopt Your Vision
  • Create a Community Consensus
  • Align Your System
  • Build Professional Capacity
  • Focus Your Curriculum and Assessment
  • Support Your Teachers
  • Improve and Innovate

Nothing surprising on the list, just some stuff that takes focus and courage.  It means asking the question Kay found posted in his old school in New York, “what will our students need to know and do in 2025?”
Kay and Greenhill argue, “our system of education was built for an economy that no longer exists.”  Our kids are headed for jobs that require critical thinking and non-routine tasks.
Barbara Chow, Hewlett Foundation, said, “This book lays out a concrete vision and roadmap for delivering the educational outcomes that our children will need for success in 21st century work and civic life.”
By Ken Kay and Valerie Greenhill
Publication Date: April 2012
*This book was provided to the Getting Smart team for review.

Tom Vander Ark

Tom Vander Ark is the CEO of Getting Smart. He has written or co-authored more than 50 books and papers including Getting Smart, Smart Cities, Smart Parents, Better Together, The Power of Place and Difference Making. He served as a public school superintendent and the first Executive Director of Education for the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

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