21st Century Skills
The term “21st century skills” has made its way into education terminology, but what does it really mean? Business leaders first identified the skills, knowledge and expertise students must master to succeed in work and life in the 21st century. Ken Kay, President and Co founder of The Partnership of 21st Skills has identified these 21st century skills:
- critical thinking
- problem solving
- be self directed
- globally aware
- self accountability
- technologically literate
Mr. Kay refers to creativity, critical thinking, communication, and collaboration or the 4 C’s, as important as the mastery of core academic subjects. Hermosa students practice collaboration, a vital 21st century skill by conducting research in a small groups and then presenting results to the class. They learn to evaluate their progress using the following guiding questions: How is your group working together? What are the positive things the group does? What could it do better? What do you contribute to the group?
It Takes More Than A Smart Board
It takes more than a smart board to teach 21st century skills. A smart board, although a useful 21st century teaching tool, is only that, one tool. To teach 21st century skills, the method of instruction and guiding philosophy of education must support the 21st century skills and outcomes. At Hermosa, although the Montessori model that guides our program is over 100 years old, with the exception of the addition of 21st century technology, our guiding principles need no change. Hermosa students have daily opportunities to demonstrate skills like teamwork, collaboration, and self directed learning. Instead of relying on the usual lecture-question format, Hermosa teachers require students to lead their own discussions about books, and written literature responses to reading passages they have studied. They clarify or challenge others’ comments while referencing information from the material, their own experience, or other current events the students make connections with within the material they discussed. Beginning with Hermosa’s youngest students our 21st century curriculum and learning environment is student-focused unlike traditional teacher-directed learning. Even Hermosa’s pre-school and kindergarten students learn to be self-directed. Rather than the imposition of rules and procedures from teachers, Hermosa students practice personal responsibility as they take ownership of planning their daily schedules and completing their classroom assignments. Hermosa students become internally motivated.