The Seven Survival Skills

Global shell I've read several books in the past couple of years that have profoundly changed the way I look at teaching and learning. Clay Shirky's Here Comes Everybody, Daniel Pink's A Whole New Mind, the Heaths' Made to Stick, Ken Robinson's The Element, and Tony Wagner's The Global Achievement Gap (among others).
Well, I'm actually not finished with Wagner's book. But I want to post some of his thoughts as I read in hopes of encouraging some discussion here and at school.
~The subtitle is: Why Even Our Best Schools Don't Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need–and What We Can Do About It. He is a former teacher and principal, and now serves as co-director of the Change Leadership Group at the Harvard Graduate School of Education.
He says:

…effective communication, curiosity, and critical-thinking skills, as we will see, are much more than just the traditional desirable outcomes of a liberal arts education. They are essential competencies and habits of mind for life in the twenty-first century.
The simplest explanation for the low level of intellectual work and general lack of curiosity found in classrooms–even our best high schools–is that our schools were never designed to teach all students how to think.

The first skill:

  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving

Wagner says, though "critical thinking" has become somewhat of a buzzword, his interviews with CEO's and college professors  show clear similarities in finding a definition. Be curious about why things are the way they are and be able to ask good questions, throw out the textbooks, use less linear thinking, have strong analytical skills, don't take things at face value, apply abstract knowledge and figure out a solution.

His criticism of most classes, including AP courses, is that we create students who can follow a prescribed set of instructions, answer questions posed by the teacher, and see what is–but not what might be.

Ask our students to be the ones who question– not just the ones who answer.

Next, Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence.

Uploaded on March 16, 2007
by Gaetan Lee