Life is Good – For those with 21st Century Skills

This week I had the privilege to be the keynote speaker at the Mid-Willamette Education Consortium Conference “Life is Good” in Salem Oregon. I began the day as the featured speaker at the administrators’ luncheon. The organizer had asked me to recommend a book for the attendees. I selected Tough Choices or Tough Times: The Report of the New Commission on the Skills of the American Workforce.  It speaks to one of the central challenges of education  – how to ensure that students have ample support for creativity and reflection – think of Bloom’s synthesis and evaluation. The report states:

“Creativity, innovation, and flexibility will not be the special province of an elite. It will be demanded of virtually everyone who is making a decent living. … If someone can figure out the algorithm for a routine job, chances are that it is economic to automate it…. The best employers the world over will be looking for the most competent, most creative and most innovative people on the face of the earth and be willing to pay then top dollar for their services.” more

After lunch I gave my keynote talk to an audience of CTE teachers – I entitled it, “Life is Good – For those with 21st Century Skills” Teachers don’t have time to waste – and they like to leave a workshop with practical ideas. I was pleased when I received this email from one of the attendees.


I attended the MWEC kick off last night…and deeply appreciated your presentation.  I was the one who asked about the Checking Account comparison assignment… As a warm-up activity I did as you suggested…had the kids select something they might want to purchase…had them figure out what “things” (later defined that as criteria) they would consider when purchasing their item…They were into it…asked tons of questions to clarify…and did a great job… I had them get away from their computer, walked into the hall…into two lines….then they faced each other (random pairing…on purpose) One designed line explained their CRITERIA to the other line…the second line were actively listening and repeated the criteria back…and vice versa…. While they were still standing outside the classroom, I explained the checking unit and our next comparison activity… They are still working on it, but they are MUCH clearer about the process than any of my previous classes have been. 

THANK YOU for sharing your ideas!  It is always great if you can take one or two things away from a conference, but I have never been able to walk directly back into my classroom and utilize a conference tidbit like this… WONDERFUL!

Carol Kilfoil
Business Education Teacher
Department Chair
West Salem High School
Salem, OR 

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