These are not 21C skills

I see a lot of this on the web: Six 21C Skills you REALLY Need. 


  1. Self awareness
  2. Asking questions
  3. Empathic listening
  4. Authentic conversation
  5. Reflection
  6. Seeking and working with multiple perspectives 
This is a list of good skills to possess, but they are not 21st C skills. They are–and the writer slides over this too quickly, I think–skills independent of time and place. They are closer to the intellectual virtues and traits to the idea of a classical liberal education, rather old ideas and ones that are sui generis.

The matter is not trivial. Much of the talk about so-called 21C skills is missing context (or takes the context as only the past 50 years or so) and is disconnected from a rich dialogue on education that spans centuries: think Rousseau through Dewey or Plato through Maritain to Adler. We need to reconnect to this conversation, to answer why before we rush to what and how.


Recommended readings:


Dorothy Sayers’ Lost Tools of Learning
Hilda Neatby So Little for the Mind (asavage indictment of Canadian education, written in 1953, but still rings too true. Sadly, out of print but worth digging up.)


  1. Reply
    Cristina Milos January 10, 2012
  2. Reply
    Cristina Milos January 10, 2012

    I agree and stated that many a times on Twitter as I get irritated with this type of discourse.Educators should read more history of pedagogy to see how far back certain strategies, views on education and values go.

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