5 critical 21st century skills that go way beyond the 4 Cs

By Ann McMullan
November 12th, 2015

Teach students to think like entrepreneurs with these skill sets

21st-century-skillsSince the publication of his highly impactful book, The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-First Century, Thomas Friedman has been teaching his readers and listeners to think differently about our world and how we interact with each other. Friedman consistently talks about new skill sets that are required for anyone who wants to not only survive but truly thrive in the hyper-connected world that is life in the 21st century.

Educators have been tackling a new mindset for student learning for nearly two decades. In the early 2000s, when as a nation as we sat at the dawn of the 21st century, The Partnership for 21st Century Learning (formerly The Partnership for 21st Century Skills) introduced the education community to a Framework for 21st Century Learning, which highlighted 18 different skills. Over time leaders from a broad spectrum of business and education communities narrowed the focus to concentrate on a set of skills that came to be known as the 4Cs—communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and creativity.

The goal was to have the 4Cs integrated with the “3Rs” that had served as the backbone of American curricula for centuries. As the K-12 education community continues the work of embedding the 4Cs into all content areas, the world continues to evolve and we find ourselves once again considering what it is all students must know and be able to do by the time they graduate from high school.

One organization that has taken on this challenge is Metiri Group, based in Marina Del Rey, California. Metiri Group, through their collaborative project with North Central Regional Education Laboratory, enGauge 21st Century Skills: Literacy in the Digital Age, helped to define the term “21st century skills” in the context that it is now widely known.

At the core of Metiri Group’s work is the belief that the skills that are necessary to be a successful entrepreneur are the same skills that all students require in order to be voracious, engaged learners. Metiri Group identifies five competencies that are essential to building entrepreneurial skills in all students: Self-Direction; Evidence Based Thinking; Persistence; Calculated Risk Taking; Tolerance for Ambiguity.

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