21st Century Skills

December 17, 2016

Framework for 21st Century Learning

21 SkillsA unified vision for learning to ensure student success in a world where change is constant and learning never stops.

21st Century Skills are the building blocks to 21st-century learning and citizenship. They are essential for success in today’s world.21st Century Skills include the 4Cs of critical thinking and problem solving, communication, collaboration and creativity and innovation. These skills are developed while students study core subjects.

21 Centuri -Skills

  • 21st Century Citizenship 
    • Children who are civically literate, globally competent and digitally literate are better prepared for 21st-century citizenship.
  • Civic Literacy 
    • Civic literacy is our knowledge of government, community and the role that we can play as citizens in our neighborhoods and country.
  • Global Awareness
    • A globally aware and competent student can: investigate the world, weigh perspectives, communicate ideas, take action and apply expertise to different academic subjects.
  • Digital Literacy
    • Digital literacy helps students understand their rights and responsibilities online, recognize the benefits and risks, realize the personal and ethical implications of their actions in the digital space, and empowers them to be smart and effective participants in the digital world.


wayThe Framework for 21st Century Learning was developed with input from educators, education experts, and business leaders to define and illustrate the skills, knowledge, expertise, and support systems that students need to succeed in work, life, and citizenship. The Framework continues to be used by thousands of educators and hundreds of schools in the U.S. and abroad to put 21st-century skills at the center of learning. All elements of the Framework are critical to ensure 21st-century readiness for every student. When a school, district, or state builds on this foundation, combining knowledge and skills with the necessary support systems of standards, assessments, curriculum and instruction, professional development, and learning environments – students are more engaged in the learning process and graduate better prepared to thrive in today’s digitally and globally interconnected world.

Key Subjects and 21st Century Themes

Mastery of key subjects and 21st century themes is essential to student success. Key subjects include English, reading or language arts, world languages, arts, mathematics, economics, science, geography, history, government, and civics.

In addition, schools must promote an understanding of academic content at much higher levels by weaving 21st-century interdisciplinary themes into key subjects:

  • Global Awareness
  • Financial, Economic, Business, and Entrepreneurial Literacy
  • Civic Literacy
  • Health Literacy
  •  Environmental Literacy


1) Learning and Innovation Skills

Learning and innovation skills are what separate students who are prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments in today’s world and those who are not.
They include:creativity-innovation-success

  • Creativity and Innovation
  • Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving
  • Communication
  • Collaboration


 2) Information, Media and Technology Skills

Today, we live in a technology and media-driven environment, marked by access to an abundance of information, rapid changes in technology tools and the ability to collaborate and make individual contributions on an unprecedented scale. Effective citizens and workers must be able to exhibit a range of functional and critical thinking skills, such as:media

  • Information Literacy
  • Media Literacy
  • ICT (Information, Communications, and Technology) Literacy


3) Life and Career Skills

Today’s students need to develop thinking skills, content knowledge, and social and emotional competencies to navigate complex life and work environments.
21’st Century Essential Life and Career Skills include:

  • Flexibility and Adaptability
  • Initiative and Self-Direction
  • Social and Cross-Cultural Skills
  • Productivity and Accountability
  • Leadership and Responsibility


21st-century learning requires and innovative support system to engage learners through applicable skills and knowledge, appropriate technologies, and real-world connections to make learning relevant, personalized, and engaging. P21 has identified five critical support systems to ensure all students receive the kinds of learning experiences that build 21st-century competency:

  • 21st Century Standards
  • Assessments of 21st Century Skills
  • 21st Century Curriculum and Instruction
  • 21st Century Professional Development
  • 21st Century Learning Environments

What does a 21st century education look like? 

A 21st-century classroom looks, sounds and feels different than what you might remember from your own education.

Students often work in teams, tackling projects that deal with real local and global problems in health, the environment, business and more.

Teachers help students to ask tough questions and work through problems – but might not provide all of the answers.

Students get to apply their knowledge and prove what they know by presenting to their classmates, school or even their community.

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