21st Century Skills Book

Over the holidays, I have been glued to reading 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times by Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel. I originally heard about this book through my PLN on Twitter and noticed a number of people where tweeting about reading it, so I decided it might be a good book to read. In my opinion, this is a must read for any teacher, principal, or administrator, who is interested in making the education system reflective of our every changing world.

There has been lots of talk in the area that I live about how our local economy is changing from an industrial based economy with many good paying factory jobs, to more of a knowledge based economy as the factory jobs are disappearing. This is not just a phenomenon that is happening in my community but a global trend that is happening, as labor is becoming more automatized and less people are required to produce the same amount of product. Labor is also being shipping around the world to developing economies where wages are lower. This is not a trend that is going to be disappearing any time soon, but rather it will continue to grow in the 21st century.

What does this have to do with education your asking? How does this affect 21st Century Skills?  Well, many of the worlds current education system were designed and based on an industrial model and preparing students for work in factories, and other repetitive types work. Today, these types of jobs are more difficult to find and the wages are not as lucrative as they use to be, but many schools are continuing to prepare students for this type of work. So, how to we prepare our students for the knowledge based economy and beyond (what the author’s refer to as the age of innovation)–> through incorporating 21st Century Skills into our schools.

The 21st Century Skills mentioned in this book include
– critical thinking and problem solving
– communication and collaboration
– creativity and innovation
– information literacy
– media literacy
– information and communication technology literacy
– flexibility and adaptability
– initative and self-direction
– social and cross cultural interactions
– productivity and accountability
– leadership and responsibility

Now, these skills are not new, and I would certainly say that these are all things that we want our students to be, and that through integrating and focusing on building these skills we would be building good citizens of the world.

Over the next term, I am going to work on integrating these skills more into my teaching practice or identifying how I integrate them, because I think I already do quite a bit of what the authors were referring to. I hope that by me staying focused and being away of these skills, my students will benefit.

If you haven’t read this book, I encourage you to, and if you have and have any suggestions of ideas you have done with your class I would love to hear them!


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