At SchoolAmanda Vaden
Do you know what 21st Century Skills are?  They're vital in shaping your students' futures.

Here at Sphero, we talk a lot about 21st Century Skills, and we’re certain you’ve heard A LOT about them. (The phrase has become somewhat of a buzzword.) But what are 21st Century Skills and which are the most important? Well, the short answer is they’re all important, but we’ll dive into each one a bit further here and how to best implement the right activities and curriculum to achieve them as goals.

What exactly are 21st Century Skills?

21st Century Skills are considered the most important skills to succeed in today’s workplace. 21st Century Skills include skills like critical thinking, communication, technology literacy, and more. 

Students will need to develop these skills in the classroom so they can have great careers in the future! 

Examples of 21st Century Skills in the Classroom

One example of a 21st Century Skill in the classroom is communication. The communication skill involves listening to the speaker and communicating with others through both oral and written means. This skill can be taught through reading and discussing what is read, asking questions, and turning to others to formulate ideas.

The Most Important 21st Century Skills To Develop In the Classroom

No matter what grade your students are in, they are likely aware that the world is changing rapidly. Jobs that didn't exist 10 years ago are now standard. The competitive advantage for companies that will make students successful in the future is nurturing the skills needed in STEM careers.

21st Century Skills are skills that are essential to society's prosperity in the 21st century. They are not academic skills but rather the skills that will be needed to succeed in the innovation economy.

Some of the skills that are important to have are essential skills in the world of work. Basic skills are necessary for success, but others are becoming more and more important.

Essential skills for success include learning skills, literacy skills, and life skills.

Take a look at our comprehensive list below.

Learning Skills 

  • Critical thinking - The ability to find solutions to problems. It includes identifying, understanding, and raising questions about the basic concepts that underlie the solutions to a problem.
  • Creativity - The ability to think “outside of the box”. It is an important skill not to be limited by boundaries and categories.
  • Collaboration - The ability to work together with others and coordinate to achieve a goal.
  • Communication - The ability to talk/write effectively with and to others. It also includes being a good listener and being prepared to speak in both formal and informal situations.

Literacy Skills 

  • Information literacy - The ability to identify, find, evaluate, and use information effectively.
  • Media literacy - The ability to identify different types of media and evaluate and understand the messages received through each.
  • Technology literacy - The ability to use, manage, evaluate, and understand technology. 

Life Skills

  • Flexibility - The ability to adapt to new situations, improvise, and shift strategies to achieve a goal/outcome. 
  • Leadership - The ability to set goals, walk a team through the steps required, and achieve those goals collaboratively.
  • Initiative - The ability to take charge of working toward a goal.
  • Productivity - The ability to achieve a goal using these skills: setting and meeting deadlines, prioritizing needs, managing time, working ethically, collaborating and cooperating with others.
  • Social skills - The ability to connect and interact with others. 

You may be asking yourself, why, with everything students are expected to learn, are these skills so important? Not only do 21st Century Skills provide a foundation for successful learning in school, they also help to ensure students are successful outside of the classroom, in real-world scenarios in life and future workplaces where change is inevitable. While developing academic skill sets are crucial, 21st Century Skills allow for a student to become a well-rounded, adjusted and socialized adult human being who will ultimately contribute to a nation’s society. 

Hands-on learning through play-based activities are one of the most key factors in developing these skills early on in the classroom. From working in small teams to achieve a goal, to brainstorming new ways to approach an existing problem, these types of activities and curriculum offer students the chance to learn a core subject matter, in addition to lifelong skills needed for continued success. 

What are 21st Century Skills? This visual infographic explains what they are and how they benefit students.



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