26 Oct 21st Century Skills or Entrepreneurial Global Competencies?
For almost two decades educators, politicians, business leaders and parents have been talking about 21st Century Skills and what schools must do to prepare our children for their future.
I believe, as do many others (Pink 2009, Zhao 2009, 2012, Wagner 2010, Hill 2012) that it is imperative to focus on preparing our students and teachers to face and embrace the current and future challenges “to ensure the very survival and continuity of the human civilization” (Zhou 2009.)
Tony Wagner (2010) suggests 7 Survival Skills for the 21st Century:
- Critical thinking and problem solving
- Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
- Agility and adaptability
- Initiative and entrepreneurship
- Effective oral and written communication
- Accessing and analyzing information
- Curiosity and imagination
It’s a great list, but I believe many local and international school leadership teams would think they are currently achieving most of the points on the list and unfortunately not make too many changes to the status quo.
Yong Zhao (2012) presents a different framework for developing schools and students that embraces the challenges of the 21st Century. If we are to seize the opportunities presented by globalization and the rapid growth of technology, to learn and work with international partners we will be required to develop expertise in languages and cultures, mutual respect, empathy and develop a deep appreciation for each other’s situations and demands. Zhao calls these skills and knowledge entrepreneurial global competencies – that is having the perspective, attitude, knowledge and skills to discover opportunities, identify needs, secure investment, seek ideas, and build partners across national borders. Schools need to create opportunities for students to develop global competencies by becoming global enterprises.
Zhou has developed a set of elements of entrepreneurial global competency and suggests how schools can cultivate these competencies. He sees Entrepreneurial Global Competencies as:
- Seeing global problems as enterprising opportunities
- Understanding relative strengths and weaknesses of different groups
- Having a global network of friends
- Developing a high level of cultural intelligence.
He suggests that schools can cultivate Entrepreneurial Global Competencies by:
- Developing schools as global enterprises
- Make products and create services for others
- Build a global network of partners
- Provide foreign experiences and study/work abroad
- Teach foreign languages
Zhao’s work opens up a “world of ideas and solutions” for schools, solutions that are no-blame and require an “open mind and an understanding of the global nature of our world together with the ability to interact with people cross-culturally.” His ideas link directly with the International Baccalaureate and the work of the United Nations and UNESCO in addressing the millennium goals and making positive changes into international education. Schools and students like Zhao suggests would certainly be globally competent and prepared for the 21st Century.
Do you need help to develop entrepreneurial global competencies for your students? Think Strategic would be very happy to help you. If you are looking for a more formal accreditation, you could consider an international education masters degree to increase your chances of being considered for a school leadership role.