3 months ago

What are 21st-century skills and how to consciously integrate them in learning?

One of the most talked about ideas in the education community currently is the integration of 21st century skills at the school and university levels. While many discuss its relevance in higher education, the dire need is for skills to be a core component of learning acquired by students at the primary and elementary school level.

21st century skills are the key abilities that every person must acquire to have a successful career and life in the rapidly evolving and globalizing 21st century. Schools often lay so much focus on making students score well on exams, that success in higher studies and workplaces largely suffer. While school leaders, teachers and parents hold marks as the key metric of success at school, it is essential to include the 21st century skills among children early, and as school leaders to sensitise parents and teachers of its need.

There are 4 main 21st century learning skills – Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication and Collaboration. Here is how to understand each of these skills better and integrate them everyday in your classrooms.

  1. Critical thinking: 

    What – Critical thinking is the ability to clearly and rationally process information, analyse and form original opinion about it. Critical thinking is the first step to developing complex problem-solving abilities and a solution-centric approach.
    Why – Critical thinking is utilized every day at workplaces or in life situations to analyse a problem and to identify an approach to solve it.  
    How – A curriculum that focuses on critical thinking skills will not be limited to assessment that tests only how much a student remembers facts. The aseessments will include Higher Order Thinking Questions, open ended discussions, puzzles, quizzes which encourage children to independently analyse real life application-based problems with every lesson.
    Result: A child who develops the skill of critical thinking is able to approach and analyse problems more confidently.

  2. Creativity: 

    What – Creativity is the ability to create something with imagination and original ideas.
    Why – The 21st century is all about disruptive ideas, constant change and elegant, creative solutions to complex problems. Contemporary workplaces need people with a unique, creative approach who can develop original out of the box ideas.
    How – Promote art, craft and design as extracurricular activities at school. Make students approach critical topics in the syllabus with working models and presentations that encourage students to solve a real-life problem with the use of an important concept. One should also include science and art exhibitions, writing competitions and business plan competitions at school.
    Result: A child with creative skills will be able to look at problems with a unique viewpoint and think out of the box solutions.

  3. Communication:

    What – Effective communication skills give a person the ability to convey a message clearly and respectfully to one or more people. It could be written, verbal or implied through body language.
    Why – Contemporary workplaces are moving towards the path of open offices to facilitate the culture of open conversations and communication. Businesses run on giving and receiving feedback, effectively negotiating and building professional relationships that last. A workplace cannot run without people who are good listeners and communicators. In life situations, social media occupies such a large mindspace for students that it is necessary for all children to be able to know how to communicate responsibly and evocatively.
    How – Promote independent writing in the classroom and as home assignments in the form of original essays, stories, letters and emails. Hold debates at the classroom and school level where children learn to put forth original opinions and receive opinions that differ from their own. School can also develop a culture of peer reviews of assignments where children learn to give and take feedback on their work. 
    Result: A child with good communication skills will be able to articulate original opinions and solutions independently in exams and daily life effectively.

  4. Collaboration:

    What – Collaboration is the skill to work with one or more people to achieve a common goal.
    Why – Businesses cannot run without teams working in synergy and collaborating on a day to day basis to create products and services that delight customers. 
    How – Help students understand critical concepts in the syllabus with group presentations and projects where students have the responsibility to divide and complete the task on their own. Schools can promote sports as an extracurricular activity that teaches students to work in teams. Regular group excursions, activities, and a culture of peer learning help students develop bonds and an ability to collaborate.
    Result: A child with good collaborative skills is able to work in groups effectively, help peers and develops people skills.

While there is much talk about how important these skills are for success in contemporary times, most schools are unable to integrate the ideas effectively in classrooms. These few tips will help begin a culture of preparing students for the 21st century.

Tell us how you empower your students to face challenges of the 21st century at gazette@xseededucation.com.