Friday, 1 February 2013

21st Century Skills

Are we thinking more broadly than promoting the use of technology in the learning and teaching of 21st Century Skills?

This question came up because I was thinking about the necessity of providing a computer for the children's use in the kindergarten / preschool classroom. I was reading up on Steiner philosophy recently and discovered that Steiner didn't advocate the use of technology in early years learning. The acquisition and use of creativity and real life skills were prized instead. Some kindergarten children will gather excitedly around the computer and spend all day there if we allow them to. Chances are they are also exposed to technology at home. It made me wonder whether we are hindering them in developing other skills and in experiencing more hands-on learning journeys.

An American national organisation 'The Partnership for 21st Century Skills' has nominated 21st Century Skills as being Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, Communication, Collaboration, and Creativity and Innovation. This covers a much broader spectrum of skills that can be developed through play-based and inquiry-based curriculum, through dramatic and socio-dramatic play, small group or individual creative or investigative projects, and through literacy, numeracy and the creative and performing arts.

The 21st century will require young people to develop skills that are transversal (transferable to multiple contexts), multidimensional, and that are associated with higher order thinking. Work life is less predictable than it was in the past and children will be preparing for professions that don't yet exist. We can no longer prepare them for specific job roles. They will need to apply their skills in multiple contexts during their working lives.

Maybe we should re-think our use of technology in preschool and focus on developing resilient, innovative young people who are experts at working in collaborative environments.


  1. Thought-provoking. I think you should write a book on early childhood learning someday,