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Applying 21st Century Skills

A world that is increasingly growing in complexity requires higher-order skills—this means that our 21st century world expects a 21st century skill set from its citizens. Educating the next generation has never been more important and challenging, as true progressive learning goes beyond compartmentalized content areas. 

The P21 Framework for 21st Century Learning provides a clear illustration of how key subjects such as Literacy, Math, Science and Social Studies have 21st century interdisciplinary themes embedded into them such as global, financial, civic, health and environmental literacy. The framework also identifies important skills that must be mastered and applied by students because these are highly needed to succeed in an environment that is ever progressing:

  1. Learning and Innovation Skills (4Cs)

a. Creativity and Innovation

b. Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

c. Communication

d. Collaboration

  1. Information, Media, and Technology Skills

a. Information Literacy

b. Media Literacy

c. ICT (Information, Communications and Technology) Literacy

  1. Life and Career Skills

a. Flexibility and Adaptability

b. Social and Cross-Cultural Skills

  c. Productivity and Accountability

d. Leadership and Responsibility

Being true in its progressive philosophy in education, Keys School Manila embraces the opportunities and challenges that this dynamic century brings. Keys makes sure that each learner is a “whole child” equipped with 21st century knowledge and skills. This effort is especially visible in the school’s implementation of Learner’s Profile. The Keys Learner’s Profile includes the following skills: perspective taking, flexibility and adaptability, communication, critical thinking, problem solving, inquiry, creativity and innovation, media and technology literacy, self-regulation, perseverance, and social justice. 

Student with rubix cube

To prove how Keys has been nurturing its students to be 21st-century ready since 2006, take a look at the journey of Francesca Serafica, an incoming Grade 7 student and recipient of the Keys Loyalty Award in the Primary School Graduation Rites for SY 2022-2023. 

“I am a Keys student since Kindergarten. Over the years, I have been witnessing how the school keeps abreast of these highly progressive times and technological advances and equips us sufficiently so we can respond to the demands of the 21st century. Of course, all of that training starts in the classroom,” Francesca states. 

“I am confident to say that Keys has helped me a lot when it comes to developing essential 21st century skills. Group activities in Keys are so engaging that I am able to strengthen these skills because of the variety of learning opportunities. For example, during our 5th grade STEAM Fair, I had leadership responsibilities, and part of that was to communicate with all group members and make sure each functioned well. I exercised good communication skills as I managed to encourage those who were quite reluctant to participate to do their best shot for the overall project. Another task was our big book in Reader’s Workshop 6, where I worked alongside my peers. I believe that my collaboration skills were further enhanced as our team made deliberate decisions in assigning roles for each and maintaining healthy discussions concerning the big book project. My media literacy skills were also sharpened as I did illustrations and write-ups using digital platforms.”

She adds, “What I really love about being molded by Keys to be a 21st-century citizen is that the school opens doors for me to teach others all the beautiful and relevant ideas I learned in each lesson. Like, I can encourage my fellow students to think this way: ‘How can I apply this idea into practice?’ ”

Francesca is grateful to Keys for all the effort it does to make each kid possess 21st century skills. She comments, “I appreciate how our school highlights progress. Keys gives attention to every kid and ensures that each one receives necessary guidance to fortify further skills that they already have and those that are yet to be developed. 

Since parents are working hand-in-hand with the school, I hope that they really maintain an open line of communication with the teachers especially during conferences. I am sure that they have a lot to discuss regarding building skills for our betterment as students.”

Francesca encourages her schoolmates to practice a growth mindset as they plant each seed of 21st century skill set within themselves. “For my fellow students, and this is also a reminder for myself, let us develop a growth mindset when we are thinking about the 21st century skills we would like to improve on. I know there are a lot of skills that we ought to master and it can be overwhelming at times, but I firmly believe that it would not help if we think negatively. We could start thinking, ‘Maybe, I could do this small step.’ Even small steps could give us enough of a boost to take bigger steps or continue small steps that would lead to the best versions of us. We could say, ‘Wow! I can do this! I got this with a smiley face and a thumbs-up emoji!’ Plus, a growth mindset is a 21st century life skill!” 

Indeed, Keys envisions a community of learners who are ready to take on the century with well-equipped head, heart and hands—each a whole person, each a 21st-century citizen! 

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