main idea‎ > ‎

The Skills

Appendix:  Critical Skills that schools don’t teach (this page is inspired in part by Tony Wagner's book)  Buy the book
1. Critical thinking and problem solving
old way= top-down management styles
new way=cross-functional teams
Critical thinking skills include the ability to apply abstract knowledge to solve a problem and to develop and execute a solution-the ability to think broadly and deeply. It means having and using a framework for problem-identification-assumptions and facts, acquiring information, viewing alternative solutions
2. Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
New technology has allowed for virtual teams. There is a greater need for trust= total number of interactions divided by the number of positive interactions.
>    Being able to work well with others around the world is a competitive advantage.
>    Many students have experienced leadership through obedience  verses reasoning and persuasion and this is the kind of leadership that most businesses use.
3. Agility and Adaptability
>    People’s jobs change constantly due to the different needs of the company.
>    To thrive in a career one must be a lifetime learner and to do this one must be flexible and adaptable.
>    Employees are held accountable for dealing with ambiguity and to learn quickly.
4. Initiative and entrepreneurialism
>    The ability to find new opportunities, ideas, and strategies for improvement.
>    Must figure things out for themselves.
5. Effective oral and written communication
Written communication
According to the Partnership for 21st Century Skills:
>    80.0% of high school students are deficient
>    46.4% of 2 year college students are deficient
>    26.2% of 4 year college students are deficient
Oral communication
“ability to communicate one’s thoughts clearly and concisely but also the ability to create focus, energy, and passion.”
6. Accessing and analyzing information
v    With the many tasks that employees are asked to do requires the ability to go through vast amounts of data in reports and other sources. Being able to tell the difference between the right and wrong information is also greatly desired. There is not much need for memorization because the information we need is available at our fingertips.
v    We need to be able to gain access to and review information from many different resources.
7. Curiosity and imagination
>    Curiosity is figuring out why something is a problem and what caused it.
>    Asking why things are the way they are.
>    Having new solutions to problems and thinking “outside of the box”
Authenticity pays! 

Source:  Wagner, 2008, The Global Achievement Gap
Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need-and What We Can Do About It


From a blog:

There are two major trends in the world that pose a fundamental challenge--and many opportunities--to our educational system. One is the world is shifting from an industrial economy to a knowledge economy. The other is the rising generation--brought up on the Internet--is very differently motivated to learn. 
These two forces, argues Dr. Tony Wagner, co-director of Harvard's Change Leadership Group, compel us to reconceptualize education in this country. In his thoughtful analysis of future industry needs and education readiness studies, Dr. Wagner has identified what he calls a "global achievement gap," which is the leap between what even our best schools are teaching, and the must-have skills of the future:
·                         Critical thinking and problem-solving
·                         Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
·                         Agility and adaptability
·                         Initiative and entrepreneurialism
·                         Effective oral and written communication
·                         Accessing and analyzing information
·                         Curiosity and imagination
Dr. Wagner points out that in today’s digital age, the “Net generation” is, among other things, accustomed to instant gratification and use of the web for extending friendships, interest-driven, self-directed learning; and are constantly connected, creating, and multitasking in a multimedia world—everywhere except in school.
In order to motivate and teach this generation, the school system must be reinvented to be accountable for what matters most. That means to do the work--teaching, learning, and assessing--in new ways.
Students must acquire knowledge, but “we need to use content to teach core competencies,” he states.
To learn more about the seven skills, and how to reinvent the education system to prepare our graduates for the 21st century, please view the accompanyingvideo and PowerPoint. This presentation is based on Dr. Wagner's book: From The Global Achievement Gap: Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach The New Survival Skills Our Children Need—And What We Can Do About It (Basic Books, 2008). The program was made possible through the generous and visionary support of the MetLife Foundation.
Author: Heather Singmaster
Discussion question
At one point in his remarks, Dr. Wagner states that "we have no idea how to teach or assess these skills." It is difficult to do systemically, but good teachers exercise these skills in the classroom all the time. What are your approaches for student skill development? And how can we bring it to scale so all students can succeed in a global knowledge economy?



Worth looking at…

The seven sets of "survival" skills he is selling are also being pushed by the Partnership for 21st Century Skills, an advocacy group supported by prominent high tech companies, the National Educational Association, the National Council of Teachers of English, and other business or educational organizations with no recent record of interest in strengthening the academic content of the school curriculum.

What skills are missing from the K-12 school curriculum? According to Wagner, such "skills" as critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, agility, adaptability, initiative, entrepreneurialism, effective oral and written communication, accessing and analyzing information, curiosity, and imagination. It's hard to think of anything that has been left out of this utopian view of what K-12 teachers should teach--except, perhaps, the "skills" of honesty and integrity.



critical thinking, problem solving,


agility, adaptability,

initiative, entrepreneurialism,

effective oral and written communication,

accessing and analyzing information,

curiosity, and imagination.

And?  the "skills" of honesty and integrity.


What can students and teachers do?  Perhaps look at Edward deBono's work

Lateral thinking (Edward deBono)

Iain Barraclough (New Zealand) suggested that deBono's books be made part of a school's curriculum.  Good idea.          Free PDF

Summary of the 6 Hats  (Free but with some spelling errors)

A set of Lateral Thinking Exercises on

Free Preview to a book about Thinking Skills


Mastery of core subjects and 21st century themes is essential to student success. Core subjects include English, reading or language arts, world languages, arts, mathematics, economics, science, geography, history, government and civics.

In addition, schools must promote an understanding of academic content at much higher levels by weaving 21st century interdisciplinary themes into core subjects:

• Global Awareness

• Financial, Economic, Business and Entrepreneurial Literacy

• Civic Literacy

• Health Literacy

• Environmental Literacy

Learning and Innovation Skills

Learning and innovation skills are what separate students who are prepared for increasingly complex life and work environments in today’s world and those who are not. They include:

• Creativity and Innovation

• Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

• Communication and Collaboration

Information, Media and Technology Skills

Today, we live in a technology and media-driven environment, marked by access to an abundance of information, rapid changes in technology tools and the ability to collaborate and make individual contributions on an unprecedented scale. Effective citizens and workers must be able to exhibit a range of functional and critical thinking skills, such as:

• Information Literacy

• Media Literacy 

• ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) Literacy

Life and Career Skills

Today’s life and work environments require far more than thinking skills and content knowledge. The ability to navigate the complex life and work environments in the globally competitive information age requires students to pay rigorous attention to developing adequate life and career skills, such as:

• Flexibility and Adaptability

• Initiative and Self-Direction

• Social and Cross-Cultural Skills

• Productivity and Accountability

• Leadership and Responsibility


Return to The Main Idea

Reading suggestion: Moonwalking With Einstein ... after clicking on link, scroll down page for details about the book and author  -- A. Howe


UPDATE  18 January 2012
I attended a workshop at in Hallandale, Florida.
Here are some notes

Find your social ranking in

Social networking = business.

BGT's slogan is 
Creative Thinking.
Global reach

These points are made by David Clarke and Adam, presenters at the workshop.
Learn more about this company.
Their goal is 20,000 likes (they currently have 11,000)

Push marketing for your company or organization comes from friends pushing comments about your page.
... many friends can work independently to arrive at a happy result.

Pull marketing for your company is "attracting" people to your page...  more expensive and needing more centralized coordination.

An example of Goldman Sachs -- there is a "pages" page for the company as "Banking Institution" -- and FB could allow Goldman to take over the page.    It is not a good idea to sit by while negative posts are showering down ... Companies should adopt rules for engagement, tone of "voice" -- be consistent when dealing with a negative voice (is the poster angry in general?  Or just misinformed?)  

Use facebook to attract comments in a suggestion box -- and answers can be given to anonymous suggesters.  

Some of the other socialmedia mentioned in the workshop
google places

See also  The Web is Dead by Chris Anderson  August 2010

cool graphic...  w w w  ... as the mouth of the skull.

Return to Home