Introduction To 21st Century Skills

By Geetanjali Padoshi

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In the previous part we learned about how today’s kids need to have a specific skill set to cope with the changing times. In this part we shall learn about what these skills are.

What are 21st Century Skills?

These are essentially skills that kids of today need to –

  • Adapt to the rapidly changing education spectrum
  • Manage the interdisciplinary dynamics of different streams of education like Science, Arts & humanities
  • Face and excel in the intense competition in scholastic and non – scholastic fields
  • Develop a well rounded personality to be future ready

These skills can be broadly classified as –

Adaptability Information Literacy Critical Thinking
Initiative for things Media Literacy Creativity
Social Skills ICT Literacy Collaboration
Time Management Communication

1. Life Skills -

They prepare the kids to adapt to a completely new environment or face challenges thrown their way at the last moment. Life skills are the ones that prepare the child for softer personality traits and make him / her future ready.

  • Adaptability – Kids learn this skill right from their birth involuntarily. As they grow they realise its importance and have to be prodded and guided by the parents for better learning of the same.The Corona Pandemic is one such example where all of us had to adapt to a completely new set of living standards. Kids who were able to adapt to online learning mode faster found it easy to navigate through those years. Those who couldn’t, faced tough situations.
  • Initiative for Things – it is imperative for today’s kids to have opinions and the ability to make choices. As parents, we must present all possible options to them with regards to academic , non-academic , behavioral and social situations. However, the onus should be on them to choose what they like. We should be the facilitators while they should be the implementers.Fostering an inquisitive and curious bent of mind would help kids to develop such a mindset.
  • Social Skills – The world has indeed become a melting pot of cultures with the changing lifestyles. Growing up with friends of different nationalities, cultures and languages is no longer a rarity. Such a set poses challenges especially for the kids. They need to be able to interact with their friends without causing disrespect and embracing others values.
  • Time Management – Kids are taught the importance and value of time at all places be it school or home. Yet, with the fast paced life, exposure to multi facets of studies and co curricular activities, time management is a skill that is much needed.

2. Literacy Skills -

These skills are no longer restricted to having the ability to read and write. With the advent of technology and information overload, today’s kids need to learn skills that would allow them to surf through this knowledge ocean, make sense of the data available and use it to their advantage. They also need to know the pitfalls and dangers of the new age information routes.

  • Information Literacy – Kids need to be made aware to decipher the data available to them into good and bad categories. They should be able to make sense of the data, evaluate it and use it to their advantage.
  • Media Literacy – There is a multitude of information media available now from television to social media. Even the manner of information relay has many options like podcasts, memes, stories etc. Having media literacy would help kids to have –
    • Critical thinking
    • Understanding the creator’s point of view
    • Learn to compare the information from different sources and decide its credibility.
  • ICT Literacy ( Information, Communication & Technology) – The importance of this skill is evident from the fact that it is an integral part of all schools syllabi. Having information about ICT allows the kids to be aware of the safer modes of digital communication, thwarting cyber threats , bullying and be aware of the harmful impact or the dark side of the digital world.

3. Learning Skills -

We need to adapt to the changing world around us by upgrading our skills. Only theoretical knowledge is no longer enough. The kids of today need to imbibe the below mentioned learning skills to be future ready –

  • Critical Thinking – This skill allows kids to understand concepts, question their reasons and put it to use for practical purposes. It makes them independent thinkers. Kids have an innate habit of being curious. This can lead to creative thinking if channeled in the right direction.
  • Creativity – Kids have vivid imagination. This inherent behavior can be encouraged to lead to a problem solving or solution seeking attitude. It also allows them to think of multiple solutions to a given problem and come up with unique ones.
  • Collaboration – We want our kids to be team players and not one man army. With the world becoming one big community, it is essential that they learn to perform and carry out tasks with peers from different backgrounds. Collaboration makes the kids friendly, empathetic, understanding and mindful of others’ views.
  • Communication – It is a basic skill that allows us to express ourselves. The digital and technological advances have further put emphasis on this skill. It has become crucial to problem solving ability, dealing with different personality types and navigating one’s way through a myriad of communication streams.

Many of these skills are being taught by parents, elders and teachers at homes and schools respectively. However, in today’s changing world it is imperative for us to know their categorisation. This would help in initiating a more structured approach to make the kids learn, imbibe and master these skills. Let’s make ourselves aware of these and make our kids ready to face any challenge head on.

The last part of the series would focus on what steps can be taken by elders to facilitate the learning of these 21st century skills.


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