an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

The Partnership for 19th Century Skills

I have written from time-to-time about the 21st century skills movement and arts education.

There was an interesting piece on the Partnership for 21st Century Learning in last week’s Ed Week. In fact, this story is still on the home page of Ed Week. As more and more of the arts education field signs on to P21, it’s worth giving this a good read.

Whether P21 can successfully convince skeptics of its good intentions
remains an open question. Concerns about a lack of specificity in its
materials are no longer the sole province of core-content advocates
like Ms. Munson, but also now include educators in the career and
technical education arena.

Last summer on the Core Knowledge Foundation blog, my dear friend Diane Ravitch posted an absolutely brilliant entry called The Partnership for 19th Century Skills. It occurred to me when I read the recent Ed Week piece that I hadn’t shared Diane’s piece with you.

It is a must read, for its brilliant wit and perfection as a critique.

Here’s a the meat of the blog:

This partnership will advocate for such skills, values, and understandings as:

  • The love of learning
  • The pursuit of knowledge
  • The ability to think for oneself (individualism)
  • The ability to stand alone against the crowd (courage)
  • The ability to work persistently at a difficult task until it is finished (industriousness, self-discipline)
  • The ability to think through the consequences of one’s actions on others (respect for others)
  •  The ability to consider the consequences of one’s actions on one’s well-being (self-respect)
  •  The recognition of higher ends than self-interest (honor)
  •  The ability to comport oneself appropriately in all situations (dignity)
  •  The recognition that civilized society requires certain kinds of behavior by individuals and groups (good manners, civility)
  • The willingness to ask questions when puzzled (curiosity)
  • The readiness to dream about other worlds, other ways of doing things (imagination)
  • The ability to believe that one can improve one’s life and the lives of others (optimism)
  • The ability to believe in principles larger than one’s own self-interest (idealism)
  • The ability to speak well and write grammatically, using standard English.



  1. It’s always a pleasure to read anything by Diane Ravitch. Thanks very much for calling attention to her “Partnership for 19th Century Skills.”
    Since she invited readers to submit other skills that “we should cultivate assiduously among the rising generation,” I offer the following:
    * The ability to reason (logic)
    * The ability to define terms according to the rules of definition
    On the second of these, readers may be interested in seeing the nineteenth-century text, “A Digest of Deductive Logic for the Use of Students” (1897), by Johnson Barker, especially Chapter VIII, “Definition and Division” (search for the chapter title) — .
    For a discussion of two twentieth-century logic texts and the application of the rules of definition (cited by Barker) to the term “art,” see Chapter 6, “The Definition of Art” pp. 94-108, in ‘What Art Is’ (2000), which I co-authored (search for the chapter title) — .
    Louis Torres, Co-Editor, Aristos (An Online Review of the Arts) —

an ArtsJournal blog