Recently I read a book called The Global Achievement Gap by Tony Wagner. This book gave a compelling answer to why students don’t seem prepare for the modern world. More importantly, he has intriguing questions, and that’s his bottom line: right answers may have been okay in the old world, but knowing how to ask the right questions is the key to survival in the new, global world our students are entering. Socrates knew that eons ago. Why have we lost that critical skill, and what can we do about it?
Wagner outlines Seven Survival Skills for today’s students:
- 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
Wanger developed this list by interviewing a large number of business leaders — from Apple to Unilever to the US Army — and by reviewing numerous studies about the skills employers want and the deficiencies in the current workforce. Many of these studies listed dozens of skills, so he used the information gained from business to determine which were the most important skills needed to adapt to a rapidly changing world. And so they are not just the skills one needs for work, they are also the skills all of us need to be engaged and effective citizens in a 21st century democracy, as well as to be life-long learners.