Some knowledge, skills, attitudes, dispositions, & abilities students will need in the 21st century might include: creativity, collaboration, evaluation, self-assessment, self-reflection, locate & discern information, know how to learn, & (for good measure) be comfortable with contemporary technology.
Now, the reason the phrase “21st century skills” makes me roll my eyes is because every single item that falls under the phrase was also a goal of teachers in the 20th century. To think teachers did not have these lofty goals for students is unfair & untrue. If every teacher has always wanted these goals, we don’t need the empty, vague, repetitive rhetoric. Instead, we need concrete strategies to promote those goals.
To say “kids need a 21st century education” is nothing new. The phrase is nothing more than a political ploy – a way to dress up what good teachers have always wanted. Enough with the pandering, let’s get on with the doing.
We do not need new goals for education, we need to be discussing how to actually achieve those goals.