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21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in Our Times 1st Edition

4.2 out of 5 stars 33 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0470475386
ISBN-10: 0470475382
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Editorial Reviews


Praise for 21st Century Skills

"The authors have done nothing less than provide a bold framework for designing a 21st century approach to education, an approach aimed at preparing all of our children to successfully meet the challenges of this brave, new world."—Paul Reville, secretary of education, Commonwealth of Massachusetts; former director of the Education Policy and Management Program, Harvard Graduate School of Education

"Trilling and Fadel describe in very readable, practical terms how to infuse 21st Century skills from standards all the way into the classroom. The DVD is full of wonderful ‘a-ha’ moments to illustrate the possibilities. A terrific traveling companion for educators, parents, and business and government decision-makers concerned about the future of our kids."—Paige Johnson, 2009 chair, Partnership for 21st Century Skills; Global K-12 Manager, Intel Corporation

"It’s about time that we have such an accessible and wise book about the 21st century skills that so many companies, policymakers, and educators are talking about. Trilling and Fadel distill insights from diverse communities of reflective inquiry on what redesigns of learning environments are needed to foster these skills, and provide path-finding tools for the exciting expeditions into the future of learning." —Roy Pea, professor, Education and the Learning Sciences, Stanford University

"Trilling and Fadel lay out a comprehensive understanding of what is meant by 21st century skills. Read this book with a note pad—you’ll be jotting down ideas for how to use the information in your school district. A must read for superintendents, curriculum directors, and teachers." —Anne L. Bryant, executive director, National School Boards Association

"Trilling and Fadel take the 21st Century skills debate beyond rhetoric, providing a substantive, compelling, and engaging argument for the skills and competencies that our children need to succeed in a knowledge age economy. The skills they describe are the essential life-blood of a productive, engaged, and intelligent citizenry – this book is a must-read for skeptics and enthusiasts alike!" —Margaret Honey, president and CEO, New York Hall of Science

“Hooray to Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel for demystifying 21st century skills. This book makes clear why education must change: to help prepare students to meet complex challenges, fulfill their civic responsibilities, and live fulfilling lives. Full of crisp descriptions, 21st Century Skills persuasively shows why policymakers and educators should run—not walk—to implement 21st learning designs. As Trilling and Fadel simply put it, it’s time to give all students the chance to learn how to build a better world.” —John Wilson, executive director, National Education Association

“With 21st Century Skills, Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel have given us a global ‘search and replace’ for outdated educational thinking. Replace ‘scope and sequence’ with the ‘21st Century Learning Framework,’ the P21 rainbow. Replace ‘models of curriculum and instruction’ with their ‘Project Learning Bicycle.’ And don't miss their ‘Kingdom of Learning, Learnalot,’ one of the most clever educational parables ever told.” —Milton Chen, executive director, The George Lucas Educational Foundation

“Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel have written a book that is truly visionary, providing sound insight into education in the 21st century. Their book provides solid, practical advice for educators, policymakers, business leaders and others interested in improving America’s position in the global economy. I recommend it to anyone interested in maximizing classroom effectiveness in this digital age.” —Dr. Steven L. Paine, superintendent of schools, West Virginia

“A must read for anyone interested in the United States ability to compete in a global economy. Educators, policy makers, business leaders, parents and students will benefit from the comprehensive information in 21st Century Skills.—Mary Ann Wolf, executive director, State Educational Technology Directors Association (SETDA)

“Working, living and learning in the 21st Century will require an expanded set of skills, competencies and flexibilities. We must prepare for a continuous learning and reskilling process throughout our lives and careers. This is a powerful exploration of what we collectively face as we live the future. A must read!”—Elliott Masie, CEO and Chair, The Learning Consortium

“Charles & Bernie’s book cuts to the core challenge facing our country—Is our education system preparing our children with the skills to succeed in a ‘flat’ 21st century world? Much more than a treatise on what is wrong with education, they provide a compelling vision for education as it should be and a roadmap for getting where we need to go.”—Keith R. Krueger, CEO, Consortium for School Networking (CoSN)

“This book presents an innovative, comprehensive strategy for evolving education to meet the needs of 21st century society.” —Chris Dede, Timothy E. Wirth Professor in Learning Technologies, Harvard Graduate School of Education

21st Century Skills is full of interesting examples illustrating both what work will look like in the years ahead and how thoughtful educators are preparing children to thrive in tomorrow’s workplaces. The richness of the examples reflects the authors’ extensive knowledge of how work is changing in the nation’s most innovative firms and their deep involvement in the efforts to improve America ’s schools.” Richard J. Murnane, Thompson Professor of Education and Society, Harvard Graduate of Education

“Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel have been two of the essential intellects behind the growth of the 21st century skills movement. We have been asked for years to provide an in-depth treatment of the 21st century skills framework. Here it is.” —Ken Kay, executive director, Partnership for 21st Century Skills; CEO, e-Luminate Group

"Trilling and Fadel have captured powerful insight into critical 21st century learning skills. Life goes on and so must learning - this book is a must for anyone interested in the future of education."—Allan Weis, former IBM vice president; founder of ThinkQuest and Advanced Network and Services

“This is a very informed, insightful, accessible book that will help policy makers, education leaders, teachers, parents—anyone interested in improving education—understand the profound global forces that are reshaping our society and their implications for education reform. 21st Century Skills provides specific recommendations for how we can—indeed must—change the curriculum, teaching, assessment, use of technology and the organization of our schools to better prepare students to be productive, creative citizens and workers in the global society and economy of the 21st century.” —Robert B. Kozma, Ph.D., emeritus director, Center for Technology in Learning, SRI International

“Bernie and Charles have presented a well researched and futuristic frame work for changing how we teach and learn for the 21st Century. It will be up to all of us to accept this challenge and move our country and world into and beyond the 21st Century.” —Kathy Hurley, senior vice president, Pearson K-12 Solutions & Pearson Foundation; incoming chairman, The Partnership for 21st Century Skills

“This is a well written and referenced roadmap for the complicated and interconnected collection of skills, knowledge and attitudes that are essential for citizens to master in our increasingly complex and rapidly changing technological society.” —John E. Abele, founding chairman of the board, Boston Scientific

“Inspirational and motivational, this book is a practical guide to implementing and understanding 21st Century Skills. Every teacher and parent should read it so they can prepare their children and their students to solve the problems of tomorrow, today.”—Dr. Barbara “Bobbi” Kurshan, executive director, Curriki

“After all the talk about organizing education, this book leads us back to what education is for. 21st Century Skills is a comprehensive and elegant survey of our changing world, the skills it requires, and how those skills can be taught and learned. Here is a blueprint for 21st century schooling.” —Michael Stevenson, vice president global education, Cisco

“This book presents an excellent case and roadmap for K-12 schools, for balancing content knowledge delivery with the development of necessary skills for success. It can serve as a valuable guide for parents, educators, and policy makers.” —Ioannis Miaoulis, Ph.D., president and director, Museum of Science, Boston

“For anyone who cares about the future of our children and their success in a global economy, 21st Century Skills is required reading.” Gerald Chertavian, chairman, Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education's 21st Century Skills Task Force; founder and CEO, YearUp

“Struggling to understand or explain the imperative for 21st century skills in our schools? Begin here.” Julie A. Walker, executive director, American Association of School Librarians (AASL)

21st Century Skills: Learning for Life in our Times is a necessary and readable articulation of the reality of 21st Century Skills in educating today’s generation of learners. Kudos to the authors for achieving clarity on this timely topic." Karen Cator, past chair, Partnership for 21st Century Skills

“Bernie Trilling and Charles Fadel have moved beyond the hype and buzz surrounding ‘21st Century Skills’ —to provide an insightful and commonsense guide to rethink learning & teaching in a world that urgently demands innovative, inventive, self-motivated/self-directed, creative problem-solvers to confront increasingly complex global problems. As they demonstrate in their comprehensive work, by proactively developing learner-centric tools that enhance context, communication, creation and collaboration, we stand a chance of retooling our obsolete industrial-era ‘conveyor belt’ educational system—to produce a flexible, future-ready way to learn and teach in and for the new millennium. The liberating result is sure to benefit not only students in the 21st century, but those to come in the 22nd century and beyond.” —Paul Reynolds, CEO, FableVision

From the Inside Flap

The world has undergone foundational shifts in recent decades—widespread advances in technology and communications, booming economic developments and increased competition, and the escalation of global challenges from financial meltdowns to global warming. How can we prepare students to meet the challenges of our century if our schools remain virtually unchanged?

This essential resource introduces a framework for 21st century learning that maps out the skills needed to survive and thrive in a complex and connected world. A 21st century education includes knowledge of traditional core subjects such as reading, writing, and arithmetic—but also emphasizes contemporary themes such as global awareness and financial/economic, health, and environmental literacies. Students in 21st century schools will apply their knowledge to understanding and solving real-world challenges using their 21st century skills:

Learning and Innovation Skills:

  • Creativity and Innovation, Critical Thinking and Problem Solving, and Communication and Collaboration
  • Digital Literacy Skills: Information Literacy, Media Literacy, and ICT Literacy
  • Career and Life Skills: Flexibility and Adaptability, Initiative and Self-Direction, Social and Cross-Cultural Skills, Productivity and Accountability, Leadership and Responsibility

The book is filled with classroom vignettes, global examples, schoolwork samples, and includes a DVD with video mini-documentaries of innovative practices that bring the skills to life and offer an exciting view of what teaching and learning can and will look like as we transform learning to meet the demands of the 21st century.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (October 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0470475382
  • ISBN-13: 978-0470475386
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.8 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (33 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #853,962 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Dee Hartt on October 31, 2009
Format: Hardcover
First off, thanks to the authors for writing a book that is applicable to teaching and learning. I've read 6 other books on 21st century skills topics and none have come close to providing models, examples, etc. on teaching and learning. In this book the authors spend less time detailing the changes in our world that are bringing an emphasis on "21st century skills" back to the forefront and more time on defining the skills and a learning framework to be used by educators in assisting students acquisition of these skills. The text details each "21st century skill" with descriptors of what students should be able to do. For educators, this is paramount in designing performance tasks and/or evaluating student performance tasks as actually being a "21st century skill." The authors then provide a learning framework or the "the project learning bicycle" and finish up with good descriptors of system changes to promote the implementation of their ideas. To sum up my thoughts, this is a book written for educational practitioners.

Dee W. Hartt, Ed. D.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Where are we going? It is a good question and no one really knows, and many academics feel that we educators should be more aware of the uncertainties that face tomorrow's leaders.

I think that educators should be thinking of these uncertainties as well, and that this book (for me) was an interesting read looking at how students need to be trained to be better adopters of information and knowledge earlier in the learning cycle. This is happening as information technologies are leading this trend in many aspects, but the training of educators to better evolve classroom practices (many dated to antiquity) for the modern world. Individuals are becoming researchers with resources at their fingertips unlike any time in the past, and with technology automating a lot of tasks we "used to do" there is more time to devote to mental development.

I bought, at the same time, 21st Century Skills: Rethinking How Students Learn (Leading Edge), and think that the two books make good companions as the other is a series of essays from prominent educators/philosophers that address this same issue from 14 other perspectives (the invited authors' viewpoints).

The book starts with a brief and basic discussion on eras of education from agricultural times to industrial into 1991 when the possible tipping point for the knowledge era was reflected in economics, and since 1991 we are all too familiar with the change technology is bringing into the world. The old SPSS statistics can now be generated within online calculators, with ease.
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Format: Hardcover
I had an opportunity to hear Bernie Trilling speak when the book first came out. As a school librarian who sees every student in my school, this book has become a valuable resource for me and my library partner. This book provides a practical guide for reinvigorating teaching for the next generation. Each chapter lays out a foundation that supports teachers and students as we prepare them for a job that may not exisit yet, all the while reinforcing critical thinking & problem solving, communication & collaboration, and creativity & innovation.

We focused in on the Four Converging Forces that educators need to look at in addressing student learning and have adapted many of our collaboration lessons with teachers to include these skills. Chapter 3 focuses on many other digital literacies and Chapter 5 on how to prepare students for work.

The second part of the book takes all the theories and places them in a blueprint for practice within the school district. Any school system looking for a model of how to incorporate 21st Century Skills into their curriculum needs to reference this book. Practical ideas and implenetations that can be adapted to current core curriculas are included along with a DVD for professional development opportunities.

My copy is heavily tagged, underlined, and well-used.
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Format: Hardcover
I had the opportunity to hear Charles Fadel speak recently, and he really impressed me. His basic theme was that American students are falling behind the rest of the world--particularly China and India--with regard to skilled workers. US students are particularly hurting in math and science performance, and that's where many of the best career opportunities will be in the next few decades. How do we address this? We need more emphasis on skills, not just knowledge, and on real-world relevance.

Thus inspired, I picked up a copy of 21st Century Skills. I wasn't disappointed. It's a highly readable book that asks us to embrace the need for change in education and learning. How can we get students to love learning while simultaneously ensuring that they are equipped to compete in the global economy?

After providing some brief historical context, the book examines what it will take to be successful as students, workers, and citizens in the 21st century. Digital literacy is one key component, but there is also a substantial emphasis on any number of soft skills: problem solving; teamwork; initiative; flexibility; and so forth. The authors proceed to advocate for "powerful learning," which is built on collaborative small-group learning--often revolving around a problem or project.

They conclude by describing how we can "retool" schooling to meet the human resource needs of the new century while creating an educational system that truly engages young people.

21st Century Skills is a must-read for educators, parents, managers, and government policymakers, but it also would be of interest to anyone looking to understand the ways in which our educational system needs to be modified to ensure that the US does not continue to lose ground globally in the education race.
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