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Significance of Teaching 21st-Century Skills to Students

Harshil Gala, CEO, NavneetToptech

“The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be ignited,” Plutarch’s aphorism is very applicable to today’s learning culture. This is especially true for students of the 21st century. Technology has made a significant impact on the world of Zoom and Microsoft Meetings. We cannot ignore the reality that automation, creativity, and ideation are critical abilities that must be mastered in addition to book knowledge. The next generation of students are expected to be competent in critical thinking, creativity, cooperation, and other areas usually referred to as 21st-century skills. We need a better grasp of what these 21st-century skills are and why they are vital.

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For a start, it’s important to understand each skill and grasp why students need to learn them and how adjusting to them will help them navigate, create relationships, and achieve their personal and professional goals. According to me, these skills are the vital 4Cs — critical thinking, collaboration, creativity, and communication. These abilities will provide students with the tools they need to flourish in this world.

Critical thinking. In contemporary society, students must think, observe, analyse, appraise, and question. Critical thinking teaches pupils that every problem has a solution especially in the digital world, where information is instantaneously accessible at the touch of a button.

Communication. This is the foundation of all relationships, including peer-to-peer. Today school and college leavers should be equipped to articulate their opinions, have well-developed listening skills and capability in communication as well.

Creativity. Students require capability to think out of the box. They should be encouraged to be creative, open minded and without bias. Innovation and problem-solving should be encouraged.

Collaboration. Though working ‘solo’ is the norm in today’s sophisticated tech-driven environment, students need to understand the significance of teamwork and collaboration. Team spirit should be instilled in children from an early age with emphasis on working collaboratively with peers to achieve common goals. This trait assists students in developing good inter-personal relationship skills.

Perspective. The notions of ‘why, what, where, how, and when’ are critical in understanding real-world problems and ways and means to solve them and the ethics of decision-making. Students also learn to understand another person’s point of view, a skill useful in social interactions and relationships.

Information. There is a flood of data available, which can be a blessing or curse. Students must be able to tell the difference between what is real and what is not.

Media & technology. Overconsumption of media and technology frequently results in information overload. Today’s media bombards pupils with so much information that they don’t have time to process it. Technology empowers, but it is also necessary to provide outlets for assimilation and assessment.

Social skills. This is a synthesis of key characteristics such as leadership, adaptability, productivity, and initiative. Students should understand every role, from team member to leader. How they should reach their goals, planning, team building, strategising, time management, and many other factors are critical to their daily success. Quick thinking is also an important life skill.

Parents may wonder why it is so important to master and practice these 21st-century skills. The answer is simple: to be able to adapt in a complex world.

These abilities lay the groundwork for successful learning not only in the classroom but also in everyday life. They produce successful people who are well-rounded, adjusted, and socialised, and who will eventually contribute to the success of the nation.

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EducationWorld April 2024
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