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21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times

ISBN: 978-0-470-47538-6
240 pages
October 2009, Jossey-Bass
21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times (0470475382) cover image
The new building blocks for learning in a complex world

This important resource introduces a framework for 21st Century learning that maps out the skills needed to survive and thrive in a complex and connected world. 21st Century content includes the basic core subjects of reading, writing, and arithmetic-but also emphasizes global awareness, financial/economic literacy, and health issues. The skills fall into three categories: learning and innovations skills; digital literacy skills; and life and career skills. This book is filled with vignettes, international examples, and classroom samples that help illustrate the framework and provide an exciting view of twenty-first century teaching and learning.

  • Explores the three main categories of 21st Century Skills: learning and innovations skills; digital literacy skills; and life and career skills
  • Addresses timely issues such as the rapid advance of technology and increased economic competition
  • Based on a framework developed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21)

The book contains a DVD with video clips of classroom teaching. For more information on the book visit www.21stcenturyskillsbook.com.

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Figures and Tables xi

The Authors xv

Prologue: The Search for Innovative Learning xix

Introduction: Learning to Innovate, Innovating Learning xxiii

The Four Question Exercise xxiv

About This Book xxviii

A Map of the Book xxix

Part One: What Is 21st Century Learning?

1 Learning Past and Future 3

Learning a Living: The Future of Work and Careers 7

Learning Through Time 11

2 The Perfect Learning Storm: Four Converging Forces 21

Knowledge Work 24

Thinking Tools 25

Digital Lifestyles 27

Learning Research 30

The Forces of Resistance 35

The Turning of Learning: Toward a New Balance 36

The Top 21st Century Challenge 40

Part Two: What Are 21st Century Skills?

3 Learning and Innovation Skills: Learning to Create Together 45

The Knowledge-and-Skills Rainbow 47

Learning to Learn and Innovate 49

Critical Thinking and Problem Solving 50

Communication and Collaboration 54

Creativity and Innovation 56

4 Digital Literacy Skills: Info-Savvy, Media-Fluent, Tech-Tuned 61

Information Literacy 65

Media Literacy 67

ICT Literacy 68

5 Career and Life Skills: Work-Ready, Prepared for Life 73

Flexibility and Adaptability 75

Initiative and Self-Direction 77

Social and Cross-Cultural Interaction 80

Productivity and Accountability 82

Leadership and Responsibility 84

Part Three: 21st Century Learning in Practice.

6 21st Century Learning and Teaching 89

Learning P’s and Q’s: Problems and Questions 90

Roads to Answers and Solutions: Science and Engineering 91

7 Powerful Learning: Proven Practices, Researched Results 95

The 21st Century Project Learning Bicycle 96

Creativity Through Projects 104

Evidence That Project Learning Works 107

Obstacles to Collaborative Inquiry and Design Learning 114

8 Retooling Schooling: Reshaping Support Systems 117

Shifting Systems in Sync 120

Support Systems 125

From Skills to Expertise: Future Learning Frameworks 145

9 Conclusion: Learning for Life—Building a Better World 151

Appendix A Resources 159

21st Century Skills Example Videos DVD 159

Resources from the Partnership for 21st Century Skills 161

Selected Online Resources 162

Appendix B About the Partnership for 21st Century Skills 167

What Is P21? 167

What Does P21 Do? 168

How the P21 Learning Framework Came into Being 170

Appendix C 3Rs x 7Cs = 21st Century Learning 175

Acknowledgments 179

Notes 183

References 187

Credits 197

How to Use the DVD 199

Index 201

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Bernie Trilling is global director for the Oracle Education Foundation and the Foundation's board member of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Prior to joining Oracle, Trilling was a director for the Technology in Education group at WestEd.

Charles Fadel is global leader for education at Cisco Systems and the Cisco board member of the Partnership for 21st Century Skills. Charles and Bernie also co-chair the Partnership's Standards, Assessment and Professional Development committee.

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Praise for 21st Century Skills

"The authors have done nothing less than provide a bold framework for designing a 21st century approach to education, an approach aimed at preparing all of our children to successfully meet the challenges of this brave, new world."—Paul Reville, secretary of education, Commonwealth of Massachusetts; former director of the Education Policy and Management Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"Trilling and Fadel describe in very readable, practical terms how to infuse 21st Century skills from standards all the way into the classroom. The DVD is full of wonderful ‘a-ha’ moments to illustrate the possibilities. A terrific traveling companion for educators, parents, and business and government decision-makers concerned about the future of our kids."—Paige Johnson, 2009 chair, Partnership for 21st Century Skills; Global K-12 Manager, Intel Corporation

"It’s about time that we have such an accessible and wise book about the 21st century skills that so many companies, policymakers, and educators are talking about. Trilling and Fadel distill insights from diverse communities of reflective inquiry on what redesigns of learning environments are needed to foster these skills, and provide path-finding tools for the exciting expeditions into the future of learning." —Roy Pea, professor, Education and the Learning Sciences, Stanford University

"Trilling and Fadel lay out a comprehensive understanding of what is meant by 21st century skills. Read this book with a note pad—you’ll be jotting down ideas for how to use the information in your school district. A must read for superintendents, curriculum directors, and teachers." —Anne L. Bryant, executive director, National School Boards Association

"Trilling and Fadel take the 21st Century skills debate beyond rhetoric, providing a substantive, compelling, and engaging argument for the skills and competencies that our children need to succeed in a knowledge age economy. The skills they describe are the essential life-blood of a productive, engaged, and intelligent citizenry – this book is a must-read for skeptics and enthusiasts alike!" —Margaret Honey, president and CEO, New York Hall of Science

“Hooray to Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel for demystifying 21st century skills. This book makes clear why education must change: to help prepare students to meet complex challenges, fulfill their civic responsibilities, and live fulfilling lives. Full of crisp descriptions, 21st Century Skills persuasively shows why policymakers and educators should run—not walk—to implement 21st learning designs. As Trilling and Fadel simply put it, it’s time to give all students the chance to learn how to build a better world.” —John Wilson, executive director, National Education Association

“With 21st Century Skills, Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel have given us a global ‘search and replace’ for outdated educational thinking. Replace ‘scope and sequence’ with the ‘21st Century Learning Framework,’ the P21 rainbow. Replace ‘models of curriculum and instruction’ with their ‘Project Learning Bicycle.’ And don't miss their ‘Kingdom of Learning, Learnalot,’ one of the most clever educational parables ever told.” —Milton Chen, executive director, The George Lucas Educational Foundation

“Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel have written a book that is truly visionary, providing sound insight into education in the 21st century. Their book provides solid, practical advice for educators, policymakers, business leaders and others interested in improving America’s position in the global economy. I recommend it to anyone interested in maximizing classroom effectiveness in this digital age.” —Dr. Steven L. Paine, superintendent of schools, West Virginia

“A must read for anyone interested in the United States ability to compete in a global economy. Educators, policy makers, business leaders, parents and students will benefit from the comprehensive information in 21st Century Skills.—Mary Ann Wolf, executive director, State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA)

“Working, living and learning in the 21st Century will require an expanded set of skills, competencies and flexibilities. We must prepare for a continuous learning and reskilling process throughout our lives and careers. This is a powerful exploration of what we collectively face as we live the future. A must read!”—Elliott Masie, CEO and Chair, The Learning Consortium

“Charles & Bernie’s book cuts to the core challenge facing our country—Is our education system preparing our children with the skills to succeed in a ‘flat’ 21st century world? Much more than a treatise on what is wrong with education, they provide a compelling vision for education as it should be and a roadmap for getting where we need to go.”—Keith R. Krueger, CEO, Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)

“This book presents an innovative, comprehensive strategy for evolving education to meet the needs of 21st century society.” —Chris Dede, Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies, Harvard Graduate School of Education

21st Century Skills is full of interesting examples illustrating both what work will look like in the years ahead and how thoughtful educators are preparing children to thrive in tomorrow’s workplaces. The richness of the examples reflects the authors’ extensive knowledge of how work is changing in the nation’s most innovative firms and their deep involvement in the efforts to improve America ’s schools.” Richard J. Murnane, Thompson Professor of Education and Society, Harvard Graduate of Education

“Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel have been two of the essential intellects behind the growth of the 21st century skills movement. We have been asked for years to provide an in-depth treatment of the 21st century skills framework. Here it is.” —Ken Kay, executive director, Partnership for 21st Century Skills; CEO, e-Luminate Group

"Trilling and Fadel have captured powerful insight into critical 21st century learning skills. Life goes on and so must learning - this book is a must for anyone interested in the future of education."—Allan Weis, former IBM vice president; founder of ThinkQuest and Advanced Network and Services

“This is a very informed, insightful, accessible book that will help policy makers, education leaders, teachers, parents—anyone interested in improving education—understand the profound global forces that are reshaping our society and their implications for education reform. 21st Century Skills provides specific recommendations for how we can—indeed must—change the curriculum, teaching, assessment, use of technology and the organization of our schools to better prepare students to be productive, creative citizens and workers in the global society and economy of the 21st century.” —Robert B. Kozma, Ph.D., emeritus director, Center for Technology in Learning, SRI International

“Bernie and Charles have presented a well researched and futuristic frame work for changing how we teach and learn for the 21st Century. It will be up to all of us to accept this challenge and move our country and world into and beyond the 21st Century.” —Kathy Hurley, senior vice president, Pearson K-12 Solutions & Pearson Foundation; incoming chairman, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

“This is a well written and referenced roadmap for the complicated and interconnected collection of skills, knowledge and attitudes that are essential for citizens to master in our increasingly complex and rapidly changing technological society.” —John E. Abele, founding chairman of the board, Boston Scientific

“Inspirational and motivational, this book is a practical guide to implementing and understanding 21st Century Skills. Every teacher and parent should read it so they can prepare their children and their students to solve the problems of tomorrow, today.”—Dr. Barbara “Bobbi” Kurshan, executive director, Curriki

“After all the talk about organizing education, this book leads us back to what education is for. 21st Century Skills is a comprehensive and elegant survey of our changing world, the skills it requires, and how those skills can be taught and learned. Here is a blueprint for 21st century schooling.” —Michael Stevenson, vice president global education, Cisco

“This book presents an excellent case and roadmap for K-12 schools, for balancing content knowledge delivery with the development of necessary skills for success. It can serve as a valuable guide for parents, educators, and policy makers.” —Ioannis Miaoulis, Ph.D., president and director, Museum of Science, Boston

“For anyone who cares about the future of our children and their success in a global economy, 21st Century Skills is required reading.” Gerald Chertavian, chairman, Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's 21st Century Skills Task Force; founder and CEO, YearUp

“Struggling to understand or explain the imperative for 21st century skills in our schools? Begin here.” Julie A. Walker, executive director, American Association of School Librarians (AASL)

21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in our Times is a necessary and readable articulation of the reality of 21st Century Skills in educating today’s generation of learners. Kudos to the authors for achieving clarity on this timely topic." Karen Cator, past chair, Partnership for 21st Century Skills

“Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel have moved beyond the hype and buzz surrounding ‘21st Century Skills’ —to provide an insightful and commonsense guide to rethink learning & teaching in a world that urgently demands innovative, inventive, self-motivated/self-directed, creative problem-solvers to confront increasingly complex global problems. As they demonstrate in their comprehensive work, by proactively developing learner-centric tools that enhance context, communication, creation and collaboration, we stand a chance of retooling our obsolete industrial-era ‘conveyor belt’ educational system—to produce a flexible, future-ready way to learn and teach in and for the new millennium. The liberating result is sure to benefit not only students in the 21st century, but those to come in the 22nd century and beyond.” —Paul Reynolds, CEO, FableVision

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21st Century SkillsLearn more about the concepts in this book; how to contact the authors; endorsers, resources, and school video descriptions and links.
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December 16, 2009
21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times

San Francisco, CA - Imagine a classroom where students are exploring the question, “Is nuclear power a good alternative to fossil-fueled power?” One group of students studies Marie Curie’s and others’ early discoveries in the physics of radioactivity, while another group researches how modern nuclear fission and fusion works, and a third analyzes current French politics and policies on nuclear power, including an online discussion of the issues with students in France. With the aid of appropriate digital technologies, the students synthesize and share their findings with each other and propose creative alternatives and possibilities.  Then the entire class holds a debate on the issues in front of parents and members of the community, and posts its findings on the internet for other classes around the world to share in and comment on.  In the process, in addition to Science, Math, History and Economics, students learn to become better analytical and synthetic thinkers, more effective collaborators and communicators, better users of digital technologies, globally aware, environmentally literate, and civic-minded.  Their projects develop in them a number of life skills as well, ranging from flexibility to initiative to cross-cultural communication to leadership.

Students acquire skills necessary for everyday life and its success through the application of their knowledge of traditional core subjects (math, language, etc) to global, health, economic, environmental and technological issues.  And in doing so, the relevance brought to traditional subjects, and the engagement of students via projects, reinforce their knowledge while developing their skills, to achieve deep competencies. This is what the authors of 21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times (Jossey-Bass; ISBN: 978-0-470-47538-6; October 2009) contend are the key positive directions where 21st century learning is headed. Authors Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel begin with why and how the global landscape for learning is reshaping itself – from accelerating technological advances to the rising need for knowledge and skills in a more interconnected world – then proceed to show how learning and education systems are already moving toward learning models more in tune with our times.

 21st Century Skills serves as a comprehensive, practical and useful guide to what educators, parents and policymakers need to do to help prepare students for success in school, work, citizenship and a lifetime of learning. Learning for today and tomorrow means mastering a number of 21st Century Skills while acquiring essential knowledge and understanding in core subjects and themes:

  • Learning and Innovation Skills: Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, and Communication and Collaboration
  • Information, Media and Technology Skills: Information Literacy, Media Literacy, and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) Literacy
  • Life and Career Skills: Flexibility and Adaptability, Initiative and Self-Direction, Social and Cross-Cultural Skills, Productivity and Accountability, Leadership and Responsibility

Complete with video mini-documentaries of learning in 21st century schools (on the DVD included with the book), international examples, research summaries, and schoolwork samples, 21st Century Skills provides an exciting overview of the global movement toward 21st century teaching and learning.

 


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