The 21st century is a more complex world than what the previous generations grew up in. Educators define it as a VUCA World: Volatile, unpredictable, complex and ambiguous world. The problems of the 21st century are vastly different and more complex than previously imagined. This means that the demands placed on the next generation workforce will be very different and they will need to be prepared to be more innovative. Compared to the previous generations where the knowledge required was static, the newer generations will need a different set of skills to solve the more complex problems being faced by the 21st century.
Education to be more practical and skill-based
Education today needs to be more practical and skill-based in order to equip the students for the workforce. In order for our students to be successful in the workforce, they need to have deep knowledge, the ability to solve complex problems, and also know how to practically use their knowledge and skills across different contexts. To build these life skills students need what is referred to as the 4 C’s of 21st Century skills: Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration and Communication.
Critical Thinking provides students with the ability to analyze information and as well as problem solving. In the information age, where a lot of information is false, we need to build thinkers who can learn to questions the information they are given to verify is accuracy, and accordingly apply the information in the correct context. This teaches students to stay engaged and asked questions, rather than passively taking information.
Creativity means the art of thinking outside the box. This doesn’t mean we need more artists or writers in the world, but rather we need workers who can analyze the problems from various different perspectives and lenses and in accordance come up with innovative solutions that we may not have considered before.
Collaboration is the ability to work together with other people. Almost every job requires people to work with other people. However, not everyone possesses the skill to work effectively with people. Being able to collaborate, share ideas, pitch solutions, take on the rejection of their ideas or even learn from the ideas of others. What is the most important for students to take back from collaboration is that they may not always be right and that one can always gain knowledge and ideas from other people.
Communication is just as important as the other four C’s. Students have to able to effectively communicate their ideas/solutions effectively. This means that students need to understand how to use the correct tone, language, and understand the group of people they are speaking to and put their point across succinctly without losing their attention.
It is only when these 4 C’s come together that we can make effective leaders of our students. This provides them with confidence and agency to go out in the world to tackle the problems that come in their way. By using these 4 C’s in a school’s curriculum, we are building students who are more prepared to enter the workforce in all and any capacity. As they grow in their careers, they will learn to adapt, innovate, collarbone and communicate and therefor be more effective leaders in the world tomorrow.