21st Century Leadership
The concept of 21st-century leadership is strongly based on the 21st-century learning framework developed by Battelle for Kids. The 21st-century terminology is often used interchangeably with STEM learning. But conceptually, they differ significantly. STEM is an approach to teaching that exposes young learners to innovative approaches to science, math, technology, engineering, and mathematics. It is necessary and addresses the rapid growth of our technology-focused era.
21st-century learning addresses the needs of young learners from a holistic perspective. It prepares youth for their futures with programs that teach career development, media literacy, and time management, among other life skills. Further, it promotes leadership skills and community engagement. The 21st-century leadership approach is modern and functional and sits at the core of our program development at Learners Today, Leaders Tomorrow.
For those of us working and living outside the education system, it often seems that children experience learning like passengers on a train – observing their social and environmental surroundings through quick scans, listening to information provided by the train attendant, but mostly allowing themselves to arrive at their destination passively. This type of learning leads to inactivity and apathy.
Our educators work hard every day to create meaningful experiences for our children. They are also well-intentioned and invested in our children’s future success. But they are often trained using outdated learning frameworks and are personally assessed using antiquated standards. New research and methodologies point towards a holistic and experiential future.
The Partnership for 21st Century Learning Framework (also called P21 Framework) was developed to integrate traditional education subjects and skill sets specific to modern life. It serves as a guide for educators and caregivers and can be applied in schools, in aftercare, in sports and recreational activities, and in daily life.
The Batelle for Kids website states, “Our mission is to realize the power and promise of 21st century learning for every student – in early learning, in school, and beyond school – across the country and around the globe.”
To accomplish this, they need schools, programs, and education leaders to adopt and incorporate the framework into their programs.
Our organization, Learners Today, Leaders Tomorrow, is excited to be championing the P21 framework and utilizing it in our aftercare, sports and rec, and outdoor camp programs. Children need skills that speak directly to their experiences as 21st-century humans. Early fostering of leadership skills will enable them to be successful and serve as role models for their peers.
But what exactly are 21st-century skills? Let’s review the P21 framework in more detail.
What are 21st Century Skills?
Simply put, they are useful skills, specifically in the 21st Century.
Battelle for Kids has outlined all the concepts of the P21 framework clearly and thoroughly on their website. But let’s look at the framework from a broader lens. Four high-level categories address 21st-century learning and leadership. They are:
- Key Themes and Subjects
- Life and Career Skills
- Information, Media, and Technology Skills
- Learning and Innovation Skills
The categories listed above address human experience along with classroom learning. The framework acknowledges the importance of didactic education and its role in childhood success.
Key Themes and Subjects:
- Global awareness (e.g., working collaboratively with individuals representing diverse cultures, religions, and lifestyles);
- Financial, economic, business, and entrepreneurial literacy (e.g., using entrepreneurial skills to enhance workplace productivity and career options);
- Civic literacy (e.g., participating effectively in civic life through knowing how to stay informed and understanding governmental processes);
- Health literacy (e.g., establishing and monitoring personal and family health goals);
- Environmental literacy (e.g., investigating and analyzing environmental issues and making accurate conclusions about effective solutions);
- 9 Key Subjects: (1) Government and civics; (2) English, reading, or language arts; (3) world languages; (4) arts; (5) mathematics; (6) economics; (7) science; (8) geography; and (9) history.
Life and Career Skills
Young learners benefit from applying their knowledge to scenarios outside traditional learning environments. To stand out amongst their peers and participate in competitive work environments, we must expand their knowledge beyond content and provide them with life and career skills.
Some examples of those skills within the framework include flexibility and adaptability, leadership and responsibility, and initiative and self-direction.
Information, Media, and Technology Skills
When discussing 21st-century leadership, this is often what adults assume we are addressing: technology or how to be a tech leader. But teaching young learners how to use a computer and other innovative systems is only part of our responsibility.
To help our future leaders remain adaptable to future technologies and growth, we must cultivate their ability to navigate abundant information and media.
Within the framework, this category is broken down into more specific skill sets of information literacy, media literacy, and ICT literacy (information, communications, and technology literacy).
Learning and Innovation Skills
This category describes how young leaders apply their knowledge and skill sets to society in meaningful and innovative ways. It is further broken down into subcategories identified as the 4Cs: communication, collaboration, creativity, and critical thinking.
To be successful, all 4 of the categories listed above should be applied in a variety of learning environments and should include a curriculum focused on diversity and professional development.
If you are of new interest to our organization, take comfort knowing that this framework’s success can be measured using a series of assessments, standards, and outcomes, such as the development of student portfolios to be used in professional environments that showcase their mastery. More specifics about this framework may be addressed in future posts on our website, and in-depth information about the concepts listed above can be found on the Battelle for Kids website; click here.
How is the P21 Framework used by Learners Today, Leaders Tomorrow?
Our organization is committed to providing relevant and valuable programs for young leaders that will guide their development and enhance the likelihood of future success and individuality.
We provide after-school activities, multi-day programs, recreational sports programs, and scholarships to youth nationwide. Our programs accommodate children as young as 4 and offer internships and scholarships for high school and college students.
All our programs are guided by the P21 framework and principles of 21st-century leadership.
In efforts to reduce the accessibility gap for students of families at all income levels, our programs are free.
We are a registered 501-c-3 non-profit organization. We maintain operations through the generosity of volunteers and donors who value a future full of supported and enlightened youth.