Redesigning the Language of “21st Century Skills”

The language of 21st century skills has become so pervasive it has lost meaning – words such as communication, collaboration, problem solving, etc. Stephen Downes posted thoughts on new language – language that he says “reflect(s) the times and not simply the fact that we have a lot of machines.”

  • Emergent Thinking: extracting patterns, rules, regularities, prototypes
  • Sensing Value: finding meaning, truth, relevance, purpose, goals
  • Acting Semiotically: using signs, signals, art, design, etc., to do things
  • Seeing Beyond: describing, defining, drawing conclusions, explaining data
  • Ecological Sensitivity: placing in context, seeing frames, making meaning
  • Living in Change: understanding flow, adaptation, progression

While I’m just starting to think about these ideas, I really like them. This language provides traction to the generic language to the description of most 21st century skill. To develop these skills individually is powerful, and to apply them in a social setting with others who have developed these skills is even more powerful.

How does what we currently do in school reflect the deep development of these relevant skills? What should we stop doing? What should we keep doing? What should we redesign to better reflect the skills?


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