We are in the mid of second decade of 21st century. Two decades back, the discussion about this century during final years of 20th century was characterized with talks about self-doubt and decadence. As all apprehensions about the coming times have gone with the wind, this also has not materialized into any sort of decadence or dissolution. Life moves on. Life has moved on. Life is moving on, in a rather better way than in previous centuries.
However, with changing times, we have to unlearn to relearn. Alvin TAlvin Toffler is also frequently cited as stating: "Tomorrow's illiterate will not be the man who can't read; he will be the man who has not learned how to unlearn." The words came from Herbert Gerjuoy, whom Toffler cites in full as follows: "The new education must teach the individual how to classify and reclassify information, how to evaluate its veracity, how to change categories when necessary, how to move from the concrete to the abstract and back, how to look at problems from a new direction — how to teach himself." (Tofler)
Thus, it becomes inevitable to think of 21st century as a sort of new chapter in the history of Time; it becomes necessary for academicians to research and search new skills necessary to make life better in 21st century; it becomes mandatory for teachers to inculcate these skills among the learners.
I would like to share this 21st Century Skills Map which is the result of hundreds of hours of research, development and feedback from educators and business leaders across the nation (USA). The Partnership between 21stcenturyskills.org and National Council of Teachers of English has come up with interesting map of these skills. It may sound easy to identify 21st century skills but what is very difficult is to define and map these skills in crystal clear terms.
Let us see how they have identified key 21st century skills for the English teachers to incorporate with their core subject. Let us also see how skills are defined:
- Critical Thinking & Problem Solving: Exercising sound reasoning in understanding • Making complex choices and decisions • Understanding the interconnections among systems • Identifying and asking significant questions that clarify various points of view and lead to better solutions • Framing, analyzing and synthesizing information in order to solve problems and answer questions.
- Communication: Articulating thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively through speaking and writing.
- Collaboration: Demonstrating the ability to work effectively with diverse teams • Exercising flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal • Assuming shared responsibility for collaborative work.
- Information Literacy: Accessing information efficiently and effectively, evaluating information critically and competently and using information accurately and creatively for the issue or problem at hand • Possessing a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access.
- Media Literacy: Understanding how media messages are constructed, for what purposes and using which tools, characteristics and conventions • Examining how individuals interpret messages differently, how values and points of view are included or excluded and how media can influence beliefs and behaviors • Possessing a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information.
- ICT Literacy: Using digital technology, communication tools and / or networks appropriately to access, manage, integrate, evaluate, and create information in order to function in a knowledge economy • Using technology as a tool to research, organize, evaluate and communicate information, and the possession of a fundamental understanding of the ethical/legal issues surrounding the access and use of information.
- Flexibility and Adaptability: Adapting to varied roles and responsibilities • Working effectively in a climate of ambiguity and changing priorities.
- Initiative & Self-direction: • Monitoring one’s own understanding and learning needs • Going beyond basic mastery of skills and/or curriculum to explore and expand one’s own learning and opportunities to gain expertise • Demonstrating initiative to advance skill levels towards a professional level • Defining, prioritizing and completing tasks without direct oversight • Utilizing time efficiently and managing workload • Demonstrating commitment to learning as a lifelong process.
- Social & Cross-cultural Skills: • Working appropriately and productively with others • Leveraging the collective intelligence of groups when appropriate • Bridging cultural differences and using differing perspectives to increase innovation and the quality of work.
- Productivity & Accountability: Setting and meeting high standards and goals for delivering quality work on time • Demonstrating diligence and a positive work ethic (e.g., being punctual and reliable).
- Leadership & Responsibility: Using interpersonal and problem-solving skills to influence and guide others toward a goal • Leveraging strengths of others to accomplish a common goal • Demonstrating integrity and ethical behavior • Acting responsibly with the interests of the larger community in mind.
- Toffler, Alvin (1970). Future Shock. New York: Random House. p. 367.