In the last blog, I threw out ideas about how our society is changing and how that is affecting the workforce of the future and the current trends of education. But now, let’s look at other effects this will have on our children or, more accurately, what skills they will need to succeed now and in the future.

It’s not all about memorization of facts and figures anymore, it’s about how to process all the information we have at our fingertips.

It’s not how well you can do a menial task, but what innovation you can come up with when given a challenge.

And for us teachers, it’s about stepping back and letting students do something and fail, but then giving our students time to really reflect on their mistakes and learn from their experience.

Talk of these skills is not only a hot topic in education, but it is in the business world too, and rightfully so! People all across the professional spectrum are concerned with the skills students are acquiring and, too often not acquiring. Tony Wagner calls them “Survival Skills”, Daniel Pink’s concept is in developing six high-concept, high-touch senses. You may have heard about the Partnership for 21st Century Skills which developed their own set of necessary skills and there are many organizations who work to promote the development of media literacies – something so important in this media rich world we live in.

Regardless of the person, organization or terminology, they all have many skills in common: innovation, creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration, initiative and flexibility. Click here to see a comparison of three sets of skills.

These are all arts-based skills!

When children and young adults look at and interpret a painting, they are thinking critically, when they work with a new type of media, they are problem solving, when they play in an ensemble, they are collaborating, when they play a game in PE, they are practicing good team work skills. But it’s not only in arts classes that students learn and develop these skills – it shouldn’t be!

All teachers do crave to teach these skills in their classrooms but can feel bogged down by curriculum demands and testing, let alone we do not have sufficient training in HOW to teach these skills effectively. Personally, I am only beginning to create my own repertoire of arts-infused teaching. Yes, I do activities that foster these skills, but I can do more and I hope to do more as I grow as a teacher.

But first, I guess I need to explore a bit more of the roadblocks before I can free myself of their grasp on my teaching.

Next Blog (due out on Tuesday, February 16, 2010) – High Stakes Testing and Other Creative Roadblocks.

Make a Comment – We want to hear from you! What are your thoughts on this topic? What insights do you have to offer to the discussion? Comments are welcomed and encouraged.

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