21st Century Skills

Key Concepts

How can we prepare students to benefit from and meet the challenges of the the 21st Century? How can students be engaged in learning that challenges and prepares them for the new collaborative, global, fast-paced world and for the unprecedented amount of information and resources at their fingertips. Many organizations, educators, and citizens are contributing to this essential discussion. Below are some pertinent resources.

Videos & Audio

21st Century Skills Video Narration

What does learning look like in the 21st century? A lot like the last century. Sure, we've upgraded the classroom environment.

But what about the way we teach? Academic standards are rigorous - but they don't prepare students to be producers, innovators or leaders in a global economy.

Once they graduate, many students drift, unable to maneuver their craft. They struggle to apply what they've learned in school to an authentic experience.

While they may have mastered reading, math, and science curricula, they did not develop complementary literacies in communication, critical thinking, or technology. If they can't leverage what they know, it's less likely that they'll be able to navigate a complex environment.

The good news is many educators strive to make core subjects relevant and accessible. They weave 21st century themes, such as global awareness or financial literacy, into reading, math, and science instruction. What's more, some fold in 21st century skills such as learning and innovation. These skills encompass creativity, critical-thinking, and collaboration. By pairing math with creativity, for example, we can make a complex subject tangible to more students.

Students must also be fluent in information, media, and technology in order to collaborate effectively and on a global scale.

If we embrace popular technology in the classroom, students will be more committed to their work. For example, students might hone writing skills by building a website.

Life and career skills also round out core curriculum.

By working on teams, students learn to be flexible, adaptable, and directed. When students are granted ownership of projects, they are vested in the outcome. These skills model 21st century work dynamics.

By teaching core and 21st century skills in tandem, students are more likely to become active, productive citizens. If this is a preferred outcome for American Students, we must standardize 21st century skills; then support them.

We can offer professional development to educators - showing them how to rewrap traditional curricula. At the same time, we can define ways to for students to practice and perfect these skills - to strengthen their impact in the workplace.

Today, we're ankle-deep in the 21st century. Let's pull all students ashore - to increase the quality of their lives and their contributions to the world.


21st Century Skills Book

Partnership for 21st Century Skills

Core Standards

Rigorous Curriculum Higher Education Reconciliation Act of 2005
See: Federal Register / Vol. 71, No. 127 / Monday, July 3, 2006 / Rules and Regulations