6 Reasons to Promote Key Learning Skills vs 21st Century Technologies

ID-100103850In our 21st Century, good Pedagogy is still the same as it ever was. The skills we need to educate our students about are still the same, however, we may have some new ways of imparting these skills on our students based on new technologies and concepts we hear about and use in our 21st Century.

So, what exactly are 21st Century Skills versus 21st Century Technologies?

There is a difference between teaching students 21st Century skills, and 21st century technologies. We should teach the skills, and integrate the technology. Not teach the technology and integrate the skills.

The caveat is however, that 21st century skills are not necessarily new at all, but have been firmly planted in good Pedagogy for centuries, dating all the way back to philosophers such as Plato and Socrates.

Sound Pedagogical Practices have always promoted the following skills:

1)      Critical Thinking

2)      Problem Solving

3)      Communication

4)      Metacognition

5)      Reflection

6)      Ethics and Morality

These skills do not change just because we have entered the 21st Century of Technology, Globalization and Social Media. However, these skills can be easily forgotten with the pressures to integrate new technologies into educational programming.

Despite the fact that these skills have existed, and been identified and shared by the likes of Socrates and Plato, they are often called 21st Century Skills. I would prefer to call them the Key Learning Skills.

Let’s explore the reasons why we need to embed Key Learning Skills into our Pedagogy.

6 Reasons to Promote Key Learning Skills vs 21st Century Technologies

1. In the 21st Century, we have new terms, such as Globalization, Media Literacy, Digital Citizenship, and Social Media. Students without question, need our Educational Systems to help them build solid Frameworks for these terms, to help them build, create, and integrate 21st Century Skills.

2. 21st Century Technology and 21st Century Skills are not one in the same. Merely using the technology, and engaging with it, is much different than dissecting it and using it to build critical thinking skills, problem solving skills, metacognition and reflective skills. Students still need the basics of good communication regardless of the type of media or platform being used.  21st century, or any century.

3. Sound Pedagogy is not about training individuals for the global market, and making them competitive in today’s markets. We don’t want to lose sight of that. Students need 21st Century skills to create and meet their own goals, contribute to the world, pursue true knowledge, and create personal success in life.

4. Human beings have not changed that much over time. Despite the fact that we exist in the 21st Century, the same basic problems that have plagued humans since the beginning of time have not ceased to exist. Humans still have the same basic needs for obtaining food, water, sustenance; communication and connection with others; shelter, safety, and privacy, love and acceptance.  Therefore, we still need to have sound Pedagogy to help all people continue to meet their needs, and engage in the pursuit of true knowledge. People will always need the skills and knowledge to be able to handle all of the changes and challenges that come up in life.

5. Without these Key Learning Skills, students have the potential to damage reputations, digital footprints, and future job prospects. For a very long time. In the 21st Century, more than any other time in history, everything that a person does online will never fully be erased, and will follow someone for a lifetime. I am an adult, and even I don’t understand the full ramifications of 21st Century technologies. We cannot assume our children do.  Educators can help by ensuring that sound Pedagogy continues.

6. Educators still need to still need to attend cultural diversities in our schools and school systems. It is still important to infuse culture into all areas of the Educational system, including 21st Century Technologies, and is absolutely essential to Sound Pedagogical Practice.

On a final note, all educators can engage in sound strategies that promote Key Learning Strategies and much akin to the 21st Century Skill sets promoted by many. Nevertheless, we must not confuse 21st Century skills with 21st Century Technologies.

Any educator that aims at completeness must be at once theoretical and practical, intellectual and moral.” Aldous Huxley, Words and Their Meaning, 1940.

Deborah McCallum

© Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education, 2012-2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Deborah McCallum and Big Ideas in Education with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.






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