The Other 21st Century Skills: Why Teach Them

Jackie Gerstein, In Our Time: Philosophy, Feb 10, 2014
Commentary by Stephen Downes

I've seen versions of this list previously and they bother me a little. The items are purportedly 'other' 21st century skills and include among them 'grit', 'resilience', 'self-regulation' and similar character traits. They read to me like a list of the traits poor people don't have (and which of course therefore explain why they are poor). I'm not doubting the value of such traits, but question their application in a list of "21st century skills". You may as well list "a balanced diet" and "positive self-image" as 21st century skills. More, I would wonder why we are in the 21st century building a society that is so dysfunctional, so dog-eat-dog, that we have to be nearly perfect in order to get by. What we as a society need to do is to be able to embrace and value the contributions of members even if they don't have a lot of grit and resilience. A society should be inclusive; you shouldn't have to fight like a dog to enjoy it.

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