What are the Skills Modern Students Really Need

Who is a student of the 21st century? What kind of person should he/she be like? Frankly speaking, it is a very complicated and controversial issue, but one thing is clear – times have changed, as a result, requirements for students have also transformed, they are not the same as 20 years ago. We live in the age of technologies, and this factor greatly affects both necessary skills and the way of their getting.

The key problem of nowadays is a growing gap between the skills we learn and the skills we really need. Traditional learning can’t cope with providing the full set of skills that are needed by students to be successful. In contrast to this, more and more attention is paid to social and emotional learning (SEL) that allows complementing the traditional skills with abilities to collaborate, solve problems and communicate. Of course, it is not a complete list of what SEL can offer. In recent years the issue of modern education and the skills needed by modern job candidates are actively discussed at World Economic Forum since such people can evolve digital economy.

The Portrait of 21st-Century Student

The youth should be flexible and be ready to adapt quickly, as according to the forecasts current students will work in the jobs that do not exist today. In this case, SEL is very useful and can bring a lot of benefits. In general, we can talk about 16 main skills that are required by modern students to find their place in the near future, all of them may be divided into three groups.

Foundational literacies cover 6 points and show how students use essential skills to deal with different tasks of everyday life. They may be called a basis needed for normal existence.

  • Literacy
  • Numeracy
  • ICT literacy
  • Financial literacy
  • Scientific literacy
  • Cultural and civic literacy

The second group is competencies that are intended to solve complex challenges. This group consists of 4 elements:

  • Creativity
  • Critical thinking
  • Communication
  • Collaboration

The last group is character qualities that determine the ability of students to respond to the changes in their environment.

  • Adaptability
  • Initiative
  • Curiosity
  • Persistence
  • Social and cultural awareness
  • Leadership

SEL is a powerful tool that also promotes students to achieve higher results, to show better academic performance and other measures of well-being.

How Can You Encourage the Formation of the Skills?

After we have outlined the range of skills modern students, it’s high time to talk about how they can be formed. Before we start considering the skills described above, we should take a look at how to teach all skills.

The general SEL strategies:

  • Learn by means of plays
  • Provide a safe learning environment
  • Divide learning process into smaller pieces
  • Give a hand to children to use their strengths
  • Use a practical approach
  • Encourage nurturing relationships
  • Direct the discovery of the topic by the child
  • Give some time to focus
  • Stimulate analysis and reflective reasoning
  • Praise in an opportune way
  • Raise appropriate challenges
  • Provide engaged caregiving

The next step is to develop the specific skills by means of the following SEL strategies.

Make children confident in their ability to succeed.  In this way, the child learns to be initiative.

Build a language-rich environment. Communication may be improved, only if the child often writes and speak.

Encourage the asking questions. You will encourage the child’s curiosity when you answer questions or provide resources to find answers in.

Promote being sympathetic. To understand and share feelings is a key to social and cultural awareness.

Teach how to learn from mistakes.  Making mistakes is a compulsory part of human being, that’s why the child should be persistent and overcome obstacles.

Facilitate cultural self-awareness. Understanding of own values and beliefs is an important way to improve social and cultural awareness.

Encourage respect and tolerance for others. The child should respect opinions and perspectives even if he/she do not share them, as it is a basis for successful collaboration.

Give an opportunity to work in a group. This point is also necessary for collaboration with people to achieve the same goal.

Provide a chance to be involved in a long-term project. It is one more way to be initiative.

Promote the ability to negotiate. Leadership covers also to be able to make compromises and come to agreements.

Develop the ability to deal with emotions. Children should be shown and explained how to identify and express his or her feelings in a proper way; this is a crucial part of adaptability.

Offer valuable feedback. Constructive criticism provides children with a better understanding of the information and thus boosts their performance.

Provide opportunities to build and create. It is impossible to enhance creativity if the child limited in his/her desire to create everything he or she wants.

Give a chance to make independent decisions. In this way, you give the child a sense of control and raise his/her creativity, curiosity, and initiative.

Work both with flexibility and structure. It is very useful to be able to cope with unexpected outcomes based. This is the basis of adaptation.

Provide enough knowledge to ask questions. You have to be sure that your child knows fundamental materials in order to ask materials and produce something new.