21st-Century Skills for Students

Assorted-product displays on white shelf.jpg

As technology and globalization combine to create situations of constant innovation, the traditional skills of reading, writing and arithmetic require supplementation with more up-to-date skills. To equip children with these skills, it is important for education to focus on teaching particular skills that will help students survive and thrive not only at the workplace, but also in personal life.

1 Technological Literacy

As learning becomes more dependent on technology, it is vital that students develop the skills to use digital media. Students should be capable of utilizing the vast array of Internet resources to gather information. For effective learning, this implies an ability to research and collect data and select that which is most important. It is also important that students develop the skills required to understand and use visual imagery and graphics that are an important component of communicating via digital technology.

2 Creative Thinking

Thanks to the Internet and the process of globalization, there are rapid changes in today’s world. Students need to develop the ability to manage time, set specific goals and keep updating their knowledge to make sense of these changes. With increasing computerization and automation, human attention has to be shifted from performing routine functions to the higher plane of problem solving. Increasing competition in the business world entails the need to listen to feedback, question convention, take calculated risks and think outside of the box to come up with creative methods tailormade for specific situations.

3 Critical Thinking

In the 21st century, the biggest obstacle is not in being able to find information, but in deciding what information is relevant and what isn’t. The Internet, especially, produces so much data on any given topic that it often causes a student to feel he is drowning in information. To be able to find and apply material that is relevant, students need critical thinking skills. These skills allow them to research and evaluate data in an objective manner so that they can arrive at an independent interpretation.

4 Collaboration and Communication

As networking is on the rise, students need to be able to develop new contacts and use them constructively. Communication is not just about keeping in touch personally; students also have to realize the importance of working in collaboration with others to arrive at solutions. In the 21st century, to learn to work with collaborators across the world, students need to be trained about respecting the sensibilities of people from diverse cultures. Considering that a large percentage of communication happens over the anonymity of the Internet, students also need training in how to build rapport in the absence of face-to-face interaction and in following the etiquette of virtual conversations.

Hailing out of Pittsburgh, Pa., David Stewart has been writing articles since 2004, specializing in consumer-oriented pieces. He holds an associate degree in specialized technology from the Pittsburgh Technical Institute.