This model of 21st century competencies is one that makes a lot of sense to me as far as understanding the importance for teachers. At the core of everything we do is the student and the goal of helping them to become literate and logical. Historically, this was important in order to instruct students in the subject areas that education decided was necessary for students to learn. And this was about it. From there educators would send students out into the world to pursue careers where employers would take over guiding their lives and determining what was important.
Now however, in the 21st century, things are different. Employers want to hire individuals who take initiative, make them money, are self-directed, communicate well, have a positive online presence, are leaders, and are culturally aware. But don’t take my word for it; check out a couple of these links from cnn.com, Helium.com, thegobeandmail.com, and The Conference Board of Canada. Looking back at the model above, these are the competencies we should be building in our students as we teach them the curriculum for our subject areas. The content of the course should be learned in ways that also allow students to acquire and strengthen the 21st century competencies. Subject matter should be focused, when possible (which is very often) on these areas. For example, the texts an ELA teacher chooses could help build global awareness, or a Math class could ask students to consider an innovative application for the concept they are learning. As we teach the curriculum with a focus on building 21st century competencies, we then develop students who are engaged thinkers, who are ethical and entrepreneurial citizens.