Wednesday, March 05, 2008

So...just what are 21st century skills?

Here is a list from The Partnership for 21st Century Skills, and in my opinion is a fair enough place to start.

Ask yourself "Do I target any of these in my classroom?"

What do you think of the list? Can we add more? Are there some that can come out? Where do the arts and music (for example) fit into a list like this?

Essential 21st Century Skills
Accountability and Adaptability—Exercising personal responsibility and flexibility in personal, workplace, and community contexts; setting and meeting high standards and goals for one's self and others; tolerating ambiguity

Communication Skills—Understanding, managing, and creating effective oral, written, and multimedia communication in a variety of forms and contexts

Creativity and Intellectual Curiosity—Developing, implementing, and communicating new ideas to others; staying open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives

Critical Thinking and Systems Thinking—Exercising sound reasoning in understanding and making complex choices; understanding the interconnections among systems

Information and Media Literacy Skills—Analyzing, accessing, managing, integrating, evaluating, and creating information in a variety of forms and media

Interpersonal and Collaborative Skills—Demonstrating teamwork and leadership; adapting to varied roles and responsibilities; working productively with others; exercising empathy; respecting diverse perspectives

Problem Identification, Formulation, and Solution—Ability to frame, analyze, and solve problems

Self-Direction—Monitoring one's own understanding and learning needs; locating appropriate resources; transferring learning from one domain to another

Social Responsibility—Acting responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind; demonstrating ethical behavior in personal, workplace, and community contexts


Brian Reverman said...

The arts are vital to the development of these 21st century skills. Look at the list and nearly all these skills are developed in the act of putting on a play, collaborating in a musical ensemble or creating an artwork from a collection of inert materials.
Elliot Eisner's "The Arts and the Creation of Mind" outlines 10 lessons the arts teach that match up exceedingly well with the afrementioned skills. The danger is thinking that innovation and development of these skills will only happen through technology. The skills outlined as necessary in the 21st century are already being taught in the very classrooms that are fighting for their survival in many schools -namely the arts classes.

Mark said...

Thank you Brian, for a refreshing and encouraging post. I'll have to track down that book.

You are right in that many are thinking that 21st century skills is all about technology. I am concerned that Art, Drama, Music and such will fall by the wayside as we strive to "compete" with China and India economically.

Thanks again

blr1002 said...

Thanks for this comprehensive list.. I am reworking my plans for class this term.. and will incorporate the same in my lessons.


Jennifer Filgate said...

With all the existing media out there to sort through, the "Information and Media Literacy Skills—Analyzing, accessing, managing, integrating, evaluating, and creating information in a variety of forms and media" can be quite time consuming for already time-strapped educators.

Sites like, which contain only educational video resources, help teachers incorporate this skill into the classroom.

Video sharing sites like this can help the Arts reach larger audiences when they record and upload their performances and concerts. Technology and the Arts can co-exist in a mutually beneficial world.

T.L.S. said...

You ask teachers to ask themselves the question "Do I target these skills in my classroom?" Teachers may also want to ask "Do I target these skills for myself as a professional teacher?" A really good place to start answering the later question is at Here are dozens of FREE professional development ideas as well as a ton on free classroom activities.

Roger Leege said...

As someone who started grown-up life as a visual artist, art teacher, and creativity researcher, I think that it is telling that I was attracted to computer programming (on Commodore PET and Apple II equipment) because I felt very much the same when programming as when making art with more traditional tools. Back in those early 80's days, systems were handicapped; there were neither spreadsheets nor word processors for small computers and, blessedly, Powerpoint was not even a gleam in Microsoft's eye. However, character graphics and Gee-Whiz BASIC were all that we needed to create an experience not that much different from easel painting.

Later, after I became a computer science teacher, I was delighted to find that the atmosphere in my lab strongly resembled that in my best art classes, with kids making and judging their own and each others' work... exercising mental muscles that don't often get much use in other parts of traditional schools.

Time to Shine said...

I do like your post here. I must say I will be able to fully apply these as I am a teacher myself. 21st century skills? I think I have them in me, it took some time to unleash due to certain reasons. No more excuses for me, I will for sure start a good year and be an effective teacher.

shiplit said...

I'm taking a course on 21st century skills right now, and we are creating blogs ourselves and checking out others. We've discussed the Partnership's list of skills as well, and I've made great use of them for discussions and projects for this class (and my classes coming up this fall).

World Famous said...

thank for the info.. this is really helpful....

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