The education reforms called for in 21st century education initiatives have been characterized as radical. International efforts to reformulate education for 21st century teaching and learning are well-funded initiatives by coalitions including governments, not-for-profit organizations, and large corporations. This article is a critique of the emergence of 21st century learning showing that a preoccupation with competencies and skills can be interrogated for that to which 21st century learning gives voice, but also for that which it silences. The fundamental question of the purpose of education, or for what do we educate, is virtually absent in most discussions of 21st century learning. Finally, I offer an alternative curricular vision to the techno-optimistic belief in progress prevalent in the discourse of 21st century learning. In the call for radical reform, I propose another understanding of the word “radical,” one that includes an ecocentric, life affirming understanding that roots education in a life code of value and in a living community of relations large enough to embrace the multidimensionality, the responsiveness, and responsibility at the heart of the pedagogical relation.
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