21st Century Thinking – Flourishing in School, Work, and Life

The world we live in feels to me as if it changes daily. We are surrounded by innovation in a digitally connected world that requires new skills and knowledge in order to be successful.

“It is change, continuing change, inevitable change, that is the dominant factor in society today. No sensible decision can be made any longer without taking into account not only the world as it is, but the world as it will be… This, in turn, means that our statesmen, our businessmen, our everyman must take on a science fictional way of thinking.” – Isaac Asimov

Intelligence is no longer only defined as how much you know, but equally – if not more in my view – by how you think. The latter was not taught to me when I was growing up at home or at school. My children are living in a world where it is a critical part of learning at school, and a fundamental part of their learning at home. As a mom who places a huge amount of value on accountability, ownership, and integrity, I think at times I am a bit “too much” for my children. That being said, it’s in the moments when what they do or say indicates the learning is happening, when I am most proud. I know my children are the future, and that their way of thinking and application of their knowledge and skills is critical for their future. Our children must be raised as 21st century thinkers so that they and their children, and the generations to follow are able to thrive.

The abilities to succeed in the 21st century are said to be divided into three categories. I invite you to do some research on this. For now, I will merely list them.

The Learning Skills

  • Critical Thinking
  • Creativity
  • Communication

This is about, amongst other things, adapting to change, working together, sharing new ideas, being open to negotiate and to compromise. Being open to different perspectives and to consider different personalities.

The Literacy Skills

  • Information
  • Media
  • Technology

I often refer to myself as being “technologically challenged”. My children, on the other hand, seem to know so much. Literacy in the world today is very different from when I was at school where the focus was still very much on traditional literacy such as reading and writing. Scientific reasoning, together with critical thinking is more important in literacy now.

The Life Skills

  • Flexibility
  • Leadership
  • Initiative
  • Productivity
  • Social Skills

This is needed in both our personal and professional life. We need to be open to the changes happening around us. We must be able to start things without being told to do so. We need to be able to cope despite the interruptions and distractions this world we live in brings. Networking and building relationships are not just for extroverts if we want to succeed. We need to accept that our way is not necessarily the best way, and we need to admit when we are wrong.

We know that habits can be changed and can be easy to mimic. We know we learn through observing, experimenting and experiencing. So when I came across the 16 Habits of Mind identified by Arthur Costa and Bena Kallick, “the how and what” of critical thinking to be successful in this world we live in now, seemed much less daunting. The 16 Habits of Mind shouldn’t be foreign to us – it should become our way of being. Again, I invite you to explore these habits further, but for ease, I will list them.

  1. Persisting – Stick to it
  2. Managing Impulsivity – Take your time
  3. Listening with understanding and empathy – Understand Others
  4. Thinking flexibly – Look at it another way
  5. Thinking about your thinking – Know your knowing
  6. Striving for accuracy – Check it again
  7. Questioning and problem posing – How do you know
  8. Applying past knowledge to new situations – Use what you learn
  9. Thinking and communicating with clarity and precision – Be clear
  10. Gather data through all senses – Use your natural pathways
  11. Creating, imagining and innovating – Try a different way
  12. Responding with wonderment and awe – Have fun figuring it out
  13. Taking responsible risks – venture out
  14. Finding humor – laugh a little
  15. Thinking interdependently – Work together
  16. Remaining open to continuous learning – Learn from experiences

Embrace the 21st century. Be the creator of success in all facets of your life. We can all flourish!

Until next time…

Yours in Adapting & Being

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