Isn’t it becoming a bit redundant to say “21 century” already. I mean, 10 years ago it sounded so “new” and almost futuristic. Today, it’s starting to sound like someone hasn’t quite figured out where they’re living. This is especially true of education where we tend specialize in acronyms and titles.

21st Century Learning/ 21st Century Skills

Do we need to be reminded what century we’re in? The students and parents know what century it is and the rest of the world seems to have figured it out. Why does education seem to be the last place where we have to be reminded we’re in the 21st century. I mean it’s kind of a marketing ploy – “We’re teaching our students 21st Century skills” still has a ring of “Wow” to it. The reality is that there are quite a few different visions of what that really means – from testing to technology – which usually brings about a great discussion. So let’s pause for just a moment of reflection….

The skills people need today are somewhat similar to skills that people had in previous generations – collaboration, cooperation, problem solving skills (real-world or maybe non-real world), creativity and an ability to use information in a new an unique manner. Much the same set of skills people who first came to NA had to have to trek across the land with no maps, build houses and towns in the middle of nowhere with basic tools, help one another survey in a climate and landscape they were not use to and build two nations that have become leaders in the world.  If you take a look at the skills needed to accomplish all that in a few hundred years, the skills our students need are very similar. Granted they may be doing this in a different manner, across the globe using different technologies but these “21st Century Skills” aren’t much different than the skills that the pioneers possessed. It might be we’ve let some of these skills lapse since then but do we have to look at them as some new set of skills that we haven’t seen before? It’s much like the catch phrases “Web 2.0 and Digital natives/immigrants (look at the problems that’s created!)” which all have finally dropped out of use because we don’t need them. We really need to move past this naming thing. It gets in the way of getting things done because we spend so much time defining the label and figuring out what it means.


Instead of naming our learning and skills, lets focus on creating situations where students can build skills and encounter learning that will motivate them and assist them to follow their passions, build community and solve problems regardless of what century they’re in or what world they are on! We need to spend less time “naming” and more time “getting things done”. Our students would be better of for it.