fields of science to incorporate new facts. He asked whether there might be similar principles in the world of work that would guide workers in understanding the changing content and context of their jobs.
DeRocco responded that the organizing principles in the world of work are the foundational personal, academic, and workplace competencies in the models she had mentioned earlier, which provide the capacity for lifelong learning.6 For the individual, she said, it is less important to “know everything the moment you walk in the door” than to possess these core characteristics and values.
Houston cautioned that the group should not minimize the importance of science content or job content, as both teachers and bosses remain impressed by people who know many facts. She suggested that employers view 21st century skills as an addition to core knowledge. The ability to quickly add to the knowledge base or synthesize it, she said, may be increasingly important, and this process involves 21st century skills. She explained that, in her competency modeling, she often includes a competency called “functional” or “technical” competency, in recognition of the fact that employees and teams are responsible for knowing and understanding the content of their work.
Kay asked if there was a trade-off between breadth and depth in science education. He expressed concern that requiring teachers to cover too much information would reduce time for developing critical thinking and problem solving related to particular science concepts (National Research Council, 2005, 2007a). He asked if there might be six or eight great science challenges that would require students to demonstrate both content mastery and 21st century skills and whether this might require giving up some content.
Kay then said that, although the panel had focused on the corporate perspective, he hoped they would not ignore the individual, especially at a time when so many people who have mastered the content of their jobs have been laid off. He offered two points of clarification. First, he said that the 86 percent of jobs in the service economy should not be equated with working at a discount retail store. He noted that the workshop participants are part of the service economy, which includes education, health care, scientific research, and all types of economic activity other than manufacturing and agriculture (Franklin, 2007). Second, he argued that all workers, whether employed at the high or low end of the service economy, are in danger of being laid off and will need 21st century skills in order to survive and advance in the current economy.