21st Century Skills Development

Introduction

The 21st century is considered to be the century of media, information, and technology. The world around us is very different from what it was in the days before – it is evolving at an alarming rate. Students need to keep up and ride the wave of change if they wish to become successful and stay relevant. The school program has to change and adapt as well.

Modern teachers have to realize that they no longer hold the monopoly on dispensing information – they are no longer its primary source. Modern students can find anything on the internet nowadays. The role of the teacher is changing – from a source of knowledge, they need to become its filter and teach students the skills they need to discern the information on their own. This paper is dedicated to analyzing the activities that would help in developing some of the essential 21st-century skills.

The Essential 21st Century Skills

The skills required to be successful in the 21st century can be split into six different areas. These are:

  • Communication – the ability to convey ideas to others.
  • Collaboration – the ability to work with others and be part of the team.
  • Analytical thinking – finding similarities and differences, planning, classifying and prioritizing.
  • Problem Solving – the ability to analyze issues and finding solutions to them.
  • Finding and evaluating information – being able to find and discern credible information from dubious, and use it.
  • Creation and Innovation – the ability to generate original content.

Activities for Skill Development

There are numerous activities a teacher can incorporate into his or her practice to help the students develop these necessary skills and qualities. Here is a list of possible suggestions that could be incorporated into a standard curriculum:

  • Group projects. These can be used to promote interpersonal communication, collaboration, and problem-solving. Learning to work with one another is an important skill to have, as modern businesses and organizations involve large group efforts.
  • The Socratic method. It is an ancient and effective way of teaching students to think critically. It is a dialectical method that involves asking and answering questions. This method is also good for teaching students to ask questions – something that not many can do nowadays.
  • Creative tasks. Creativity is often born where there is a lack of instruction on how to accomplish certain tasks. Set up a goal before the students, but leave out the part on how to reach it. Lack of constraints and freedom of choice would inspire unusual and creative ways of solving problems.
  • Advanced information gathering. Many students nowadays know how to use Google and other search engines. However, they often have no idea about advanced search techniques. A teacher could explain how to use the engine properly, and weed out the sources deemed untrustworthy.
  • Presentations. Instead of silently submitting their work to the teacher for a review, the students should present and defend it in front of the class. This would influence their communication and critical thinking skills, as they would not only learn to convey their thoughts to others but also answer questions posed by the audience.

Conclusion

The teacher is the paramount building block of our society. The goal of any teacher is to make sure their students leave the classroom with a well-developed set of skills that would help them in college and later in adult life. Incorporating these techniques into the curriculum would ensure that the students develop all six areas of skills required in the 21st century.