We often hear about "21st century job skills" - things people should know in order to be best prepared for jobs today. This phrase recently caught my attention "Collaboration is not a 21st Century Skill, it is a 21st Century Essential." Collaboration, what is it?
Part of the idea is that "two heads are better than one." I enjoyed reading the book The Wright Way. It presented a great historic example of collaboration. The Wright Brothers, created one of the greatest "could never be done" inventions of the 20th century - heavier than air flight. This book talks about a collaboration technique they often used to help conquer engineering barriers - forging. Sort of like arguing or fighting with ideas and concepts. It reminds me of the concept in Proverbs "Iron sharpens iron." The idea that two working together can improve each other. So how does one teach kids this essential 21st century skill? I believe I have found something which works very well - teaching them how to build robots together. They not only get exposed to another essential skill for today's shrinking job market - robots and digital technologies, but they learn how to work together as a team to create something. A couple of weeks ago I had the privilege of spending a week at a high school in PA, teaching a 10-hour workshop to junior high and high school students on robotics. Here is a brief highlight of what it looked like. I believe this provides a great model for other high schools to follow in providing their students with these 21st century job skill essentials.
I really like what this school does to facilitate this type of collaborative learning experience. Each year they set aside the first week of 2nd semester, they call it J-Term, and offer all sorts of practical, hands-on learning sessions. The sessions meet for 2 hours a day; the students take 3 different course. In 10 hours of class time, I believe this workshop exposed them to some essential 21st century job skills as well as challenged them to develop a biblical worldview on technology. Of course, my final challenge was to encourage them to consider the role of a biblical worldview, liberal arts based, higher education to help properly prepare them for life. My #1 pick is BJU and particularly the computer science program, where I invested 30 years of my life helping Christian young people learn how to think critically and interface with computers to solve real world problems for the glory of their Creator and Savior, Jesus Christ!