Thursday, December 19, 2013

21st Century Skills

One of the most provocative and relevant concepts in current education is the notion of 21st Century Skills. The term refers to a set of skills, knowledge and expertise that many educators believe students need to be successful in work and life today. If you "google" the term, your search will direct you to a number of different websites that discuss the topic. No two lists of 21st Century Skills are identical, but there is broad agreement.

Gaston Day embraces many of the goals of the 21st Century Skills Movement. I will be discussing the main elements of 21st Century Skills in my next several blogs. My information is largely taken from "The Partnership for 21st Century Skills" website, which identifies four main categories of 21st Century Skills: 1) Core Subjects (3Rs) and Other 21st Century Interdisciplinary Themes; 2) Learning and Innovation Skills; 3) Information, Media and Technology Skills;
and 4) Life and Career Skills. This blog will focus on the first category.

Here is the list of core subjects:

* English, Reading or Language Arts
* Arts
* Mathematics
* Economics
* Science
* Geography
* History
* Government and Civics

Gaston Day teaches all of these core subjects, with the exception of Economics. From the school's perspective, however, it is not enough to master these disciplines in isolation. As educators, our goal has to be to enable students to make important connections between separate subjects and apply what they learn to other areas.

In addition to the core subjects, 21st Century Skills add four interdisciplinary themes to the core:
1) Global Awareness; 2) Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy; 3) Civic Literacy; and 4) Health Literacy. These themes integrate knowledge and learning from many fields into these four basic areas. Global Awareness promotes the understanding of different nations and cultures, including those that are non-English speaking. Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy develops personal finances and a knowledge of larger economic systems. Civic Literacy involves staying informed on and understanding governmental processes and upholding civic obligations at the local, state, national and global levels. Health Literacy includes staying healthy personally and supporting health initiatives both at home and abroad.

My next blog will discuss Learning and Innovation Skills, Information, Media and Technology Skills, and Life and Career Skills. Also, I want to discuss how 21st Century Skills influence learning at Gaston Day. Please stay tuned.