Elliott Masie has reported that he and 11 others – from Singapore, Finland, Canada, the UK and the USA – have met at Harvard in order to discuss the topic of ‘21st Century Skills – A Potential Curriculum’. The idea was to see what set of skills we need the next generation of students to have as they enter the workplace. Among the contributions to the discussion was a paper from the Singapore Ministry of Education (see http://tinyurl.com/yduf98n).


The paper argues: ‘To better position our students to take advantage of opportunities in a globalised world, they need to possess life-ready competencies like creativity, innovation, cross-cultural understanding and resilience’. Moreover, every student needs to be confident, with a strong sense of right and wrong; be a self-directed learner who is able to work effectively in teams and who has a strong sense of civic responsibility.


It goes on to say that: ‘Knowledge and skills must be underpinned by values. Values define a person’s character. They shape the beliefs, attitudes and actions of a person, and therefore form the core of the framework of 21st century competencies’. Students also need skills to recognise and manage their emotions, develop care and concern for others, make responsible decisions, establish positive relationships, as well as to handle challenging situations effectively. It concludes that the key skills for 21st century success are:

  • Civic literacy, global awareness and cross-cultural skills
  • Critical and inventive thinking
  • Information and communication skills

Comment: This is a challenging and thought provoking debate – and it’s also interesting that certain countries take this whole issue seriously enough to devote significant resources to discussing it. At least it could be argued that we’ve currently got another 89 years in which to come up with the right answers – although, of course, the ‘early birds’ might win the ‘worm’, whatever that might be.