In substance I agree that all of these are highly important skills for our future generations. In reality these skills don't really prepare our students for the 21st century, they prepare our students to prepare themselves for the 21st century. I feel that six out of seven are dead on- exactly what our students need, and focused enough that we can look at and work on each. I feel that skill six is redundant. Par of having students being able to collaborate and lead by influence is getting them the communication skills they need to be successful. In place of this skill I would insert the skill of resilience. This makes my list of survival skills:
- Critical Thinking and Problem Solving: Our students need to be prepared for whatever the world looks like when they enter the workforce. To me this means getting away from a facts/rote-solving based instruction and moving towards training the skills that students need to find and create their own solutions to problems. This means to me that students need larger scale projects to work on that give them the time and opportunity to find problems and their solutions. I plan to move away from the "I do, We do, You do" teaching model that I see right now to a model that puts more of the creation of ways to solving problems on the students instead of training them to repeat steps they have already seen.
- Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence: I know what I take this to mean. It means that students will be able to work together with their classmates and reach beyond the classroom in order to shape their own learning. I'm just not sure what it would really look like in my own class right now. I plan to continue thinking about how to implement training this skill in my classes.
- Agility and Adaptability: This means students are able to bring a whole host of tools to play when overcoming problems. I think this is somewhere that schools are currently both succeeding fantastically and failing utterly. Students are given a huge chance to develop a huge host of skills but are never challenged to use those skills outside a small box that is defined in the course and never learn to think of the skills they are using in terms of how they apply to real life issues. In my class this means that I will try to introduce problems that call on skills from other courses so that students can start to learn to use the range of tools they've been given.
- Initiative and Entrepreneurialism: Our students need learn to be self-motivated. In my class this will look like removing the requirements for compliance. Setting strict rules and penalties for when homework can be turned in, what labs need to look like when turned in, how to solve problems, etc. may terrify some students into doing everything right but that "terror" ad the good performance it inspires only lasts through the semester. Students need to learn to control their own learning and take pride in it. As they do this they will be more willing to take the initiative in their own lives and learning.
- Resilience: This is the skill I am adding. This is the grit that students need to stick with something and continue in spite of opposition. This is a critical skill to me because without it students will never learn to be agile and adaptable or actually get around to solving REAL problems with difficult answers. Students need to learn to fail and then learn to get up and try again. In my class this would look like setting high expectations for students that they will have to really struggle to reach. It also means designing a class where failure and recovery are an option.
- Accessing and Analyzing Information: My students aren't in the same position I was in when I went through school. In those days (the 90s so the internet had yet to blossom into the facile tool it is now) students had to learn a lot of information because getting your hands on the information, or even knowing it existed required a lot more effort. Now students can get information with the ease of drinking from a firehose. Which is to say that it is still difficult but for a drastically different reason. I hope to train my students on how to access useful information and find tools that will help them organize their learning instead of getting terrified by the great seething mass of information at their fingertips.
- Curiosity and Imagination: I think that this final skill is one of the most elusive but important skills we can instill in our students. Right now most of my students just don't care to learn more about "stuff." School and teachers has taught them that everything that is worth knowing will be spoonfed to them and everything else isn't on the test and thus isn't worth their time. To combat this I hope to move my teaching towards inquiry-based instruction that focuses on asking questions instead of learning answers.