What is the 21st century skills movement and where did it come from?
The 21st century skills movement developed in response to an increasingly global economy powered by rapidly changing technology. The world is changing with unprecedented speed. The last 60 years have seen the development of the computer, the internet, satellite imaging from space, and the mapping of the human genome. There has been a transformation in the ways that we communicate and work. What will the next 60 years bring? Children entering kindergarten this year will spend their educational and professional careers in an exciting period of complex and exponential change. Tomorrow’s workforce needs to evolve in order to respond and thrive in the 21st century world. The movement for 21st century skills has risen to advocate for changes in education to meet the needs of a rapidly shifting, competitive, and connected world.
What are 21st century skills?
There are six major educational frameworks designed to improve the development of 21st century skills (The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills, Groups enGauge framework, Iowa Core 21st Century Skills, Connecticut State Department of Education, and Assessment and Teaching of 21st Century Skills). While each framework has a slightly different focus for 21st century skill sets, all concur on four critical goals for learning: critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration, and creativity. These skills are sometimes referred to as the 4 Cs.
In addition to the 4 Cs, 21st century skills groups advocate for fluency in information, media and technology skills as well as the ability to analyze information and the ability to think critically about that information that is bombarding us from so many media sources every day. Skills in new and changing technologies and their best use are a part of most frameworks. In addition, important life and career skills such as flexibility, adaptability, initiative, and self-direction are identified as important for success in the 21st century.
Educators must utilize strategies that support the development of these skills. There are effective tools that support content learning while supporting 21st century skills development. Look for more blog posts that give specific strategies for promoting creativity, collaboration, critical thinking, and communication in your classrooms. 21st century skills development needs to be a priority for today’s students. In order to be competitive in a changing workforce, students need to build the skills that businesses are asking for – 21st century skills.