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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

21st century skills

We often come across mentions of 21st century skills, especially in the realm of teaching technology We are sick and tired of hearing the name "21st century skills." What does it really mean? Twenty years from now, will the skills we teach in school still be the same we are teaching today? How about in 80 years, in 2097? Same skills? If so, then great, let's keep on calling them 21st century skills. If you are like us and think that these will change, then we really ought to come up with a better name for what we're doing right now. The 21st century started 17 years ago. Almost 20% of it is already done. It's time to move away from "21st century" anything.

Imagine educators gathering in 1918 at the end of the First World War, and bemoaning our loss of competitiveness against other countries. We ought to teach 20th century skills so that they can do better and boost test scores. Now imagine these educators getting together in 1988. Same skills? Same techniques? Probably not. Same name, 20th century skills? It should be, it's still the 20th century!

Let's retire the name already. Call them skills for success, skills for life, whatever. But stop calling them 21st century skills!

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