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I went down a twitter rabbit hole last week and ended up at this article from October 2013. It won’t get out of my head. Take a look!

Love the controversial title, first of all: “Grit, Optimism, and Other Buzzwords in the Way of Education.”

Shapiro goes into a lot of detail about why these traits are not enough on their own to produce the kinds of results they claim to deliver. But the final section of the essay is the part that you gotta read, the part that stuck in my craw.

“The trouble with 21st century skills is that they are not skills at all. They are subjective values that, when located within individuals and assessed like skills, become moralistic accountabilities.

Over a cup of coffee, Kaplan and I were able to imagine, for every positive instance of one of these so-called skills, a correlative negative.”

What a great thought exercise, a simple way to force trends to pass the BS test!

To paraphrase a classmate of mine, so often in education we are “zoomed in too close”…and we “reinvent the wheel” because we aren’t looking outside of education. We grab these great sounding, intuitively correct ideas from other disciplines, but we don’t import the rigor and muscle behind the theory. The end result is predictably fluff and gets dropped within the decade. Teachers learn that the best way to handle these new ideas is to ignore them. “Don’t let the IB get in the way of a good education” was the mantra of a colleague of mine.

I have learned so much about how to be a better teacher from peeking outside the confines of my school context. As I enter the final third of my master’s studies, I am starting to feel that educators MUST be continually engaged in research and higher education. While it’s time consuming and difficult to straddle the roles of teacher and learner, I think it’s necessary.

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