The 21st century literacy concept
“21st century literacy” discussions are around what constitutes “knowledge” and its purpose in the 21st century. Backgrounding these discussions is the global move out of the “Industrial Age” into the “Post Industrial” or “Knowledge” Age.
image by vanhookc
From an educational point of view, the most significant aspects of the change from the Industrial Age to the Knowledge Age are:
- Knowledge societies generate wealth by developing and redeveloping new forms of knowledge that are used to constantly develop innovative new products.
- Emphasis on the need to generate new knowledge and the shift away from reproducing existing knowledge.
- Knowledge Age learning is often collaborative, with the teacher’s role as “knowledge leader”. Knowledge leaders not only create conditions for student learning, they also model learning themselves by being active learners.
21st century learners are encouraged to use knowledge to think critically and make judgements about the 21st century challenges of:
- social justice
- human rights
21st century literacy embraces difference – learners are expected to be able to consider multiple points of view to come to their own evidence based conclusions.
“Knowledge”, “Knowing” and the verb “To know” are redefined in 21st century literacy to include an active, critical, inquiring component where students are encouraged to work in authentic, problem solving situations.
Key skills for students in the 21st century are:
- Problem framing
- Critical thinking
- Thinking in new ways – explained as thinking “outside the square” or “the black box”
- Innovation/ creativity
- Bolstad, Rachel and Gilbert, Jane. (Nov 2008). School ICT innovations: 21st century learning or digital busywork? Computers in New Zealand schools, 20:3, p. 42-51.
- N.Z. Ministry of Education. (2008). Approaches to social inquiry, edited by David Chadwick. Building Conceptual Understandings in the Social Sciences Series.
- Shifting to 21st Century Thinking in Education and Learning (NZCER): This website provides ideas, tools, and resources for helping people make the shift from 20th Century to 21st Century ways of thinking about learning.
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