Children who will live in the future will need 21st Century skills to succeed when they are adults. Which abilities were defined as 21st Century skills by the National Institute for Educational Policy Research in 2013? In this article, we will introduce the 21st Century skills young children today are expected to gain and how they can develop them.
The 21st Century abilities are the skills and qualifications grown ups will be expected to obtain in order to succeed in our future society. In the future, globalization, the Information Age and the age of AI will expand across the globe and require all people to live in a society shared by various cultures. As a result, instead of an educational system focusing on the amount of knowledge countries will be moving toward an education system that focuses on problem solving and encourages children to think and live for themselves.
Not only Japan, but America, the EU and New Zealand have proposed similar changes in educational policy. 21st Century skills have been defined as the required abilities children today will need to succeed in the future society.
21st Century skills include [basic skills] (the 3R’s -reading, writing and arithmetic, ICT skills, and information literacy). The 2 other important factors of 21st Century skills are the [power to think] (problem solving skills and creativity) and the [power to execute] (communication skills and the ability to take action). Improving all of these skills at the same time is an important part of improving one’s 21st Century skills.
Inquiry-based learning is being included in the educational system to encourage the improvement of 21st Century skills. In inquiry-based learning, instead of the teacher lecturing to the class, students are encouraged to take the lead in the learning process. Through research and exchanging opinions, students gain basic skills, the power to think and the power to execute. When they come across a problem that they cannot solve with their current knowledge, they are encouraged to search for a new solution. In order for students to be prepared to succeed in our future global society, it is important for our educational system to include a curriculum that promotes the above skills.
In order to improve students’ 21st Century skills, it is mandatory for schools to implement learning methods that take into consideration these skills from an early age. During early childhood, teachers and parents should provide a play-based environment that encourages children to gain the required basic skills, power to think and power to execute. It is effective for parents to encourage their child to think for themselves and problem solve at home. To improve their information skills it is a good idea to use smartphones, tablets and PCs.
If parents provide their children with the opportunity to gain these skills not only at home but also during early learning classes, their child will be better prepared to gain 21st Century skills. Attending early learning classes will allow children to work in a group setting to help improve their problem solving and communication skills.
To succeed in our future global society, it is essential that children gain the 21st Century skills (basic skills, power to think, power to execute). Let’s give them plenty of opportunities to gain these required skills both at home and at early learning classes from a young age.