21st Century Skills Must Include the Right Habits and Attitudes
We've all been hearing about the importance of 21st century skills for well over a decade now. But many of us struggle to understand what these really mean and how to integrate them into our lessons and classrooms. Common definitions include reference to skills like communication, collaboration, and creativity, which are increasingly applied through technology tools.
In “Classroom Habitudes“, Angela Maiers takes a different approach to the 21st century skills our students need, and how to teach about them. This fun book is full of practical lesson plans that can be used to help students learn the importance of the soft skills Maiers defines as essential “habitudes”.
The opening chapter, “Redefining Success in the 21st Century”, explains the habitudes and provides lessons for introducing them to students and getting them thinking about their importance.
The Habitudes are:
There are separate chapters for each of these, exploring why each matters, and offering lessons and resources for exploring them.
Some might look at these soft skills and think that they are a considerable step off of those more commonly referred to in 21 century skills literature. I think they make a lot of sense, and the graphic below, from the World Education Forum's “New Vision for Education” includes several of them. I think this structure really ties together context educators are regularly exposed to, such as foundational literacies and competencies, with these less tangible skills.
Adapting a Lesson to Your Classroom
In the opening Chapter, one of the lessons suggested to introduce the habitudes to students is based on letting students visualize them by selecting one and creating a poster for it. I teach an entry level course at The College of Westchester titled Emerging Information Technologies, that is focused on helping freshman understand how technology is being used in today's workplace. As an introductory level course, I think this a great place to get students thinking about these vital soft skills.
My vision for this lesson is to offer the descriptions of the habitudes that Maiers includes in her book (perhaps with some tweaks that I think make them more relevant to my students), and introduce a variety of tech tools students can select from to create a digital graphic for one of them. This should nicely tie together an introduction to these skills and their importance with some hands-on use of fun, new tools. Students could select from tools like PowerPoint, Canva, Piktochart, or BeFunky, or they could select another tool of their preference.
I look forward to continuing my journey through this book and considering how to further incorporate these skills into lessons in my class. I will also be engaging with other faculty regarding these skills as we move forward with a strategic initiative to help ensure the delivery of the technical and soft skills employers seek in our graduates.
More About Angela Maiers
It was fun to explore some of Angela Maiers' work, as I have been hearing great things about her for years now. She has written numerous books, is a regular speaker at education conferences, and is the founder of Choose2Matter. Learn more about her work and her passion at angelamaiers.com.