The Most Important Skill in the 21st Century

I think Alan November's message is the most important of any that were delivered at this year's ISTE conference. Primarily, if we're going to teach teachers and students to use the Internet, then we should be teaching them to understand the perspectives of others. The idea that empathy is the most vital skill of the 21st Century is very powerful. Nevertheless, I don't think it's limited to only here and now.

Hasn't our society starved for citizens that understand and care for one another? Haven't we strove for the most civil of populations? Isn't empathy the first step in achieving such a goal?

What's changed, however, is the geographical distribution of our society. In times past, social capital was established among those in our immediate proximity: local meant house, village, and state. Today's local, nevertheless, is yesterday's global. I think that this is exactly what Jean Claude Richard was trying to teach in his opening keynote. In spite of his difficulties in presenting to a 5,000 person audience, Richard's thesis was that the only way we're going to solve all of the problems we face on this planet, will be to work together as a race: the human race.

To that critical thought, I join with Alan November in emphasizing to teachers and curriculum leaders world-wide that we should all be more focused on globalizing the curriculum. I fear thar failure to do so will translate into drastically negative consequences for this and future generations.

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