Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Message from the Superintendent of Schools
August 13, 2014

Welcome to the 2014-2015 School Year

This year places us at the halfway mark of the second decade of the 21st Century. As we mark this milestone, we need to quit looking at what should be 21st Century Learning Skills and define what skills our students need for their future.

I define 21st-century learning as 20th- (or even 19th!-) century learning but with better tools. Today’s students are fortunate to have powerful learning tools at their disposal that allow them to locate, acquire, and even create knowledge much more quickly than their predecessors. But being able to Google is no substitute for true understanding. Students still need to know and deeply understand the history that brought them and our nation to where we are today. They need to be able to enjoy man’s greatest artistic and scientific achievements and to speak a language besides their mother tongue. According to many 21st Century skills’ advocates, students needn’t actually walk around with such knowledge in their heads, they need only to have the skills to find it. I disagree. Twenty-first-century technology should be seen as a tool helping to create opportunities to acquire and build upon knowledge, not an excuse to know less.

Diane Ravitch, a respected national leader in education, defines 21st Century learning in the following way: “To be prepared for the 21st century, our children require the following skills and knowledge: an understanding of history, civics, geography, mathematics, and science, so they may comprehend unforeseen events and act wisely; the ability to speak, write, and read English well; mastery of a foreign language; engagement in the arts, to enrich their lives; close encounters with great literature, to gain insight into timeless dilemmas and the human condition; a love of learning, so they continue to develop their minds when their formal schooling ends; self-discipline, to pursue their goals to completion; ethical and moral character; the social skills to collaborate fruitfully with others; the ability to use technology wisely; the ability to make and repair useful objects, for personal independence; and the ability to play a musical instrument, for personal satisfaction.”

It is important that we, as educators and parents, work with our students to make sure that they have a strong base of skills and knowledge to be productive citizens and to carry on the legacy of learning to the next generations - using whatever tools and technology the future brings. This is a challenge that we need to constantly keep in the forefront and is the charge to all of us as we engage students in their educational journey.

I am looking forward to leading Churchill County School District as we work together to provide a world class education for our students. Thank you for the opportunity to serve as your superintendent. Please feel free to stop by the District Office or call. I am always happy to discuss how we, as a community, can improve our educational system.

Dr. Sandra Sheldon, Superintendent