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Statement by Barbara Chow in Response to the National Research Council’s Report

Education for Life and Work: Developing Transferable Knowledge and Skills in the 21st Century

Jul 10, 2012


The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation commends the National Research Council for its hard work reviewing existing research to help determine what students need to thrive in the classroom and as adults. 

We understand that more research still needs to be done – and the Hewlett Foundation is committed to doing it – but we are pleased that the committee validated the importance of the Foundation’s investment in what we call “deeper learning.”

As a result of this report, we will double down on pursuing these critical outcomes and continue to focus on encouraging the development of curriculum and assessment strategies that support and evaluate deeper learning.

We know that to succeed in a fiercely competitive and complex global economy, students must be able to solve real world challenges. Deeper learning, as the NRC committee defines it, happens when students are able to take the knowledge and skills they learn in one situation and apply it to a new situation.

The Hewlett Foundation agrees this is a critical outcome that encompasses thinking critically and solving complex problems, working collaboratively, communicating effectively and learning independently.

It’s these skills – skills the report calls 21st century competencies – that will allow students to master academic content. We also appreciate the committee’s work to clarify and organize the many definitions and terms that the education field uses to describe virtually the same skills into three clusters: cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal. Streamlining these terms will go a long way to focusing our collective effort on policies and research.

The Hewlett Foundation is pleased that the committee found emerging evidence that these skills can be taught and learned in ways that promote deeper learning.

- Barbara Chow, Education Program Director, The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation