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21st Century Skills: Learning for life in our times

John Wiley & sons (San Francisco), 2009

RRP $47.95

Reviewed by Barbara Bailey. 

THIS unique publication tackles the pressing issue of education and learning (at all age levels) that prepares a person with appropriate skills for survival in the complex and connected world of the 21st Century.

The 200 pages are full of analysis, charts, an index, plus questions and answers making it a tool for government agencies, educators and corporate entities. A DVD with living examples is also part of this compelling package.

Trilling and Fadel set before the reader the style of education that needs to be left behind as people encounter a new age which is now engaged in a global financial and economic ecosystem, where the disparity between rich and poor is increasing and where digital literacy is imperative.

Social and cross-cultural interaction is now a fact of life.

There exists a media tidal wave that needs taming, an acute need for global co-operation on environmental challenges, increasing concerns around privacy and security, and strains on our basic resources – water, energy, and food. 

They argue the world needs problem solvers and innovators, people who are passionate and creative problem solvers, while still carrying forward important traditions and values. 

In this substantive volume which recognises the new roles education and learning are playing, flexibility and adaptability are key attributes. 

The need for students to be able to distinguish between facts and propaganda is imperative. 

There is a strong message to keep the spirit of innovation and invention alive in all projects attempted. 

The need to rekindle the love of learning and the joy of working together to create a better world is a basic premise.

In a nutshell, 21st Century Skills proposes that students be taught less so they can learn more.

This book may not be for everyone but is a vital read for educators, and those who wish to make our world a better place. Highly recommended.