Mar 092014
 

Screen Shot 2014-03-09 at 6.48.47 PMWell here we are once again, typing like a fiend on a Sunday night. Shiraz in one hand Macbook in the other, sitting at my dining room table. There is something therapeutic about this combination but I must say, it is hardly a poetic. Before this program is over my goal is to write something while sitting at Le Dôme in Paris. I will leave you to figure out why this is significant.

If anything, this Masters program is keeping my Google rankings up because I am cranking out content on a weekly basis. Not only am I getting all edumacated, I am moving up the Google charts for a variety of keywords.

As coincidence would have it, this would be an example of a 21st Century Skill that people should have and it is referred to as  SEO or Search Engine Optimization. Recently it has been rebranded for the lay person as the “Positive Digital Footprint”.

I wouldn’t say this is a do or die skill but if you are going to operate in the wired world and get recognized for your work, you need to know how to leverage the net for you benefit.

The problem is that schools spend so much time “protecting” our kids and shielding them from prying eyes on the web, this isn’t really something that schools see as something that should be taught. Yet for an adult who wants to get noticed and make a living these days, it is kinda important to create a positive digital footprint that people can find. See more at Teach Hub

Although I get ragdolled by my colleagues for promoting or trumpeting the importance of my second skill, I still think it is perhaps THE MOST important of 21st Century Skills. That is being a Free Agent Learner. The days of looking at education as a means to an end are gone. There is no endpoint to our education any longer, we have to continually be learning and if you cannot do this on your own, you are screwed.

Actually I think being a Free Agent Learner is more of a composite skill than a skill all of its own. To be a really good Free Agent Learner you need to have three things.

Reading Skills – I do not care what anyone says, the ability to read well trumps all other learning skills and will remain as such until I am long gone. It is such an efficient way to gather information that there is simply nothing even in this high-tech world that can compare.

Communication skills – I was about to put down writing skills but here is an old school skill that has given way to modern technology. Yes writing is the primary communication skill of a Free Agent Learner but it has given way to other means of expression as of late, primarily video and podcasts. Getting the message out seems to be easier than getting the message in.

Will / desire / purpose – Up until today I would have put this down but after seeing the Tony Robins Ted Talk (Yes I said Tony Robins) I would have to say this is the glue that keeps it all together. I think Robins referred to it as “emotion”. Now I don’t think this is actually a skill but it is crucial to being a Free Agent Learner. It is the realization that you have to be dependant on others for your learning and your future. Steve Jobs put it very well in this really short clip 

Problem Solving / Critical Thinking Skills are one of the Trendy 21st Century learning skills that everyone and their dog are espousing as Critical to a child’s future. The problem is, kids are not allowed to problem solve or think critically any longer.

Kids don’t have to  make decisions of even the simplest of kind because we the adults have created a thought free bubble in which they live.  In the 2009/10 season of CBC’s Doc Zone they produced an episode called Hyper Parents & Coddled Kids which masterfully brought to light just how engineered our children’s lives have become, something we now call helicopter parenting.

The irony here is that even though we have come to realize kids can’t think for themselves because we have over engineered their lives, we think the solution can be found through creating even more engineered learning opportunities so they can think critically and problem solve.

I have an idea, how bout turning off the Xbox and throwing them outside for a couple of hours each day so they can problem solve and think critically all their own. See some examples of just how it was done back in the day

Collaboration is the last of the 21st Century skills I will share in this post and I figure I would start with saying I hate collaboration. I know (((GASP))) Take away his teaching certificate! He is a wretched, wretched man for  speaking such heresy… but it is true.

I use to play along with all those collaboration crazed people because I thought that it was what I had to do but then Susan Cain came along and reassured me that not playing well with others was ok.

As Ms. Cain puts it: The bias against introversion leads to a colossal waste of talent, energy, and happiness.

I work with kids every day that do amazing work all on their own but stick them in a group they fall by the wayside. Now don’t get me wrong, people who collaborate are important and we need to teach kids how to do this but does it need to be the end all and be all of 21 Century Learning?

There needs to be a place for those who do their best all by themselves. More Susan Cain Quotes

I know there are dozens of other 21st Century skills out there I could have chosen and probably should have included but I gotta go to bed. G night.

  One Response to “Skills For The 21st Century”

  1. Very interesting post Keith! I have clipped it to my Evernote as I am sure I will use it later! Your mention about Google has me thinking. This will be something I will share with my Grade 8s and 9s. They need to know about this info! I totally agree that they need to know how to leave a positive digital footprint. I believe that when they leave highschool they should be totally searchable (in a good way of course!) There are very few that believe this! I also firmly believe that if students want to work individually they shouldn’t be forced to work in a group. But in that being said they should be encouraged to share their final product with others, either in the class or even globally.

    Great post!

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