21st Century Skills

As a teacher, parent or business owner, are you familiar with the phrase 21st century skills? 21st century skills refers to the key elements of learning and the thinking skills that are and will be needed for students to compete in a global and technological 21st century work place.

On the surface, this may seem like a simple concept- if students need X set of skills, then you do Y & Z to teach them, right? It's not that simple.

Consider for a moment the differences in how you and your parents received a K-12 education. Most of us would agree that there are numerous and often vast differences. Now, stop and think about the pace of change in the 21st century and what students need to learn just to keep up with what is going on in the world today, let alone what they will need to compete in the job market 20 years from now. Wow.

Enter the concept of 21st century skills and the movement on a national level to embed these concepts into the core of educational instruction. What, specifically, are these skills? Incorporated into the existing, traditional core subjects, 21st century skills include:

-life and career skills
-learning and innovation skills
-information, media and technology skills

We're not talking rocket science here, just the skills that a good 21st century rocket scientist would use. Things like critical thinking skills, initiative & self-direction, cross-cultural skills and media skills.

The good news is that some of these skills are already in place and being used with some teachers, districts or states. While (hopefully) colleges and universities, state educational institutions and individual school districts train their teachers and support staff in implementing a curriculum that ingrains these skills, what can you do?

Check out The Partnership for 21st Century Skills to learn more about the core concepts of the initiative. After learning a bit about these skills, look for ways to incorporate games, activities, participation in associations, classes & clubs, or other ways to build 21st century skills for your child. Age doesn't matter- no child is too old or young to learn about, improve or enrich these skills.

It's not your father's school- it's not even your school- it's a whole new ballgame. Your child is on deck and you have the power to help them hit a grand slam. So, step up to the plate and pitch some 21st century skills to your kids- the benefits will last a lifetime.