I love how when a question is roaming around my imagination and the answer starts showing up in surprising ways and at unexpected times.
During our in-school PD session this last Friday November 8th, we had Laura Gini-Newman come and speak to our faculty about critical thinking. She framed the importance of critical thinking in the bedrock of 21st century learning, arguing that it was one of the key components of this way of thinking. She also said, which I loved, “The skills of 21st century learning are not new, THE IMPORTANCE of these skills is what is new.” I feel like this confirms for me defending that reading books are a vital ingredient in 21st century learning. Tradition can be part of innovation!
The “21st century competencies” that Laura Gini-Newman cited are as follows:
- critical thinking
- creative thinkers
- collaborative thinking
- communicating (via multiple mediums)
- global thinkers
- self-regulated learners
- digitally literate
After hearing this list, I realized some of the shortcomings of my own definitions. I didn’t really consider the global piece (a huge consideration of our newly connected world), the need for critical thinking, or the value of collaboration.
This said, when comparing our two lists, I couldn’t help but feel critical of Laura Gini-Newman’s “competencies” and that they were missing some key elements. So I blended them together (three cheers for blended learning) and came up with something I like much more. I like how simple this is (three key pillars rather than seven) and how it acknowledges far more than just the skills needed to be a successful worker in a digital world, but how we become an actualized and healthy human living in this brave new world.
So, here are my 3 pillars of 21st century learning:
- Student Centred: personalized, autonomous, accountable, appropriately challenging, vigorous, relevant, current, timely, critical, applicable, and engaging.
- Innovative: Responsible risk taking, creative, “out of the box”, expressive, experimental, shifting school norms, problem solving, constructive design, and unexpected.
- Connected: Globally minded, collaborative, digitally literate, self-aware, other-aware, ethical citizenry, socially responsible, interdependent, and engaged in the world.
My goal this year while teaching Grade 7 English, is to document and reflect on how these three pillars are already showing up in my teaching practice and where I need to develop my skills in order to more effectively balance my pedagogy.
Considering my more expansive (and yet also more compact list), what is missing that shows up in your classroom that you consider 21st century-centric?