After reading about Tony Wagner's 7 essential survival skill for the 21st Century classroom, I have adapted his and threw in a couple of my own to create my 7 essential survival skills below:
1. Problem Solving and Perseverance - Over stimulation and short attention spans make it hard for our teenagers to persevere through rigorous math problems. But perseverance is critical to problem solving and critical thinking! It is important to support yet push students through difficult tasks in order to promote authentic learning and to banish learned helplessness. Perseverance and problem solving skills are essential to innovation and these are the skills our current marketplace demands.
2. Accessing and Analyzing information - There is no doubt that we live in the information age! It's accessible, sometimes reliable, but definitely abundant. Students need to develop the skill of throughly researching a topic by effectively discerning sources, and then analyzing and synthesizing what they find into something useful. An example of how I would like to do more of this in my math class is by requiring students to use their phones, computers or ipads to collect their own data to use in math projects.
3. Developing Character- I feel this was the missing part of Wagner's seven survival skills. As kids develop into adults in high school, it is important to foster an environment that encourages respect and good citizenship. The thing that isn't changing in the workplace is that we all are still living and working together. The classroom is a place that should be modeled like a workplace and students should be expected to act appropriately and have respect for others in that environment. As teachers, we need to model and enforce this behavior as kids are transitioning into adult members of society. A good way to incorporate this into the classroom is to spend a day developing a social contract for the class by discussing what appropriate, responsible and respectful behavior looks like, and then holding students accountable for this behavior throughout the year.
4. Collaboration- Two heads are better than one, so the old adage goes. When we speak about rigor and problem solving, a great support for students is teaching them to effectively collaborate. Collaboration does not look like 4 students sitting together, filling out a worksheet while one person does the work and the others copy. It takes a lot of work to create a classroom environment where students feel safe to share their ideas and collaborate with other students. It is important, as an educator, to support collaboration by creating meaningful tasks, by modeling collaborations skills and by creating clear expectations for students.
5. Fostering Creativity and the imagination- Apple's epic success and innovation came from the late Steve Job's tremendous ability to marry art with technology. He had a keen eye for aesthetics but geeked out with computers. Encouraging children to expressive themselves artistically and imaginatively leads to that great American innovation that we pride ourselves on. Let's not lose sight of how important it is keep the imagination alive and encourage students to transfer their creativity into everything they do, just as Jobs did.
6. Effective Oral and Written Communication- I want to make sure my students are prepared to enter a world and marketplace of hyper-communication through emails, chats, tweets, blogs, articles, etc. It is essential for students to be able to express themselves and their ideas with others in person or written via the hundreds of ways we communicate.
7. Creating identity and a Voice - This skill is a combination of being able to form and support opinions and the ability to effectively express them. As our students move into adulthood, it is important to help them develop their own identity, opinions and their voice. Media is no longer a one way street and anyone can have a significant impact by reaching thousands, even millions, of people through the Internet. Fostering students growth into adulthood by helping them find there place in this world is an essential survival skill.