Final Reflection: In my final reflections on Wagner and his Seven Survival Skills, I thought about what I might change and what I should keep. I concluded that all seven are essential to meet the needs of the 21st century student and teacher. However, I agree with many of my peers that something is missing. In this case, empathy. Being able to empathize and understand multiple perspectives and the heart of the human soul is invaluable, especially in a world where the global affects the local. The ability to empathize and put yourself in the perspective of another is an essential skill.
Tony Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills (Mashup)
Survival Skill #1: Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
Critical thinking involves students being engaged in problem solving and approaching the original problem from various perspectives in order to accomplish their goal. This involves being open-minded, willing to take risks, and learning from failure. According to Wagner, rather than work being defined by an individual’s specialty, it is defined by the problem or task that needs to be solved and often requires students to be able to problem-solve as part of a team.
My students in World History use common core performance tasks that require critical thinking skills to solve real-world global issues and approach analysis of primary and secondary sources like an historian.
Survival Skill #2: Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
Technology has afforded students to work collectively and collaboratively with individuals across the globe from different perspectives and backgrounds. This involves a globe understanding of history and culture, and requires a degree of empathy. Students today need to learn how to effectively communicate with people of different races, perspectives, histories, and culture. This involves a more global definition of citizenship and what it means to be a citizen in the digital world. By learning about global events and how these affect history, including future histories, students become passionate and find new ways to influence global outcomes and make a different in their world.
Survival Skill #3: Agility and Adaptability
With the abundance of new technologies and the pace of global change, it is important to be able to process information and make sense of it. Students need to be able to quickly assess information, adjust for new information and adapt to new situations accordingly. This skill often involves practice and some risk-taking to get use to meeting various types of work demands or expectations.
Survival Skill #4: Initiative and Entrepreneurship
Leadership today involves taking more initiative and learning how to lead others through influence rather than through orders. This requires seeking out new strategies, new perspectives, and dynamic thinking to reach solutions and in meeting challenges. In teaching history, this often involves case studies, looking at changes over time, global comparisons, but not forgetting the human equation. It is important to be able to think outside of the box and to be innovative.
Survival Skill #5: Effective Oral and Written Communication
The ability to express one’s views clearly is becoming more important today with the growing pace of technologies that limit face-to-face interactions. Often, meanings get misunderstood in emails, texts, and even with video-conferencing. Students now need to learn multiple communication skills that are appropriate for different contexts. Contextualization, both orally and in writing is becoming a valuable communication skill.
Survival Skill #6: Accessing and Analyzing Information
To be an informed citizen and lifelong learner in today’s global world requires the ability to access and evaluate multiple sources quickly and efficiently. The growing use of and abundance of information at our fingertips, requires critical thinking and problem solving, thinking outside of the box, and being able to work with others to process the information or to create new meaning.
Survival Skill #7: Curiosity and Imagination
Creativity and innovation are also critical to problem solving, and to developing new products and meeting challenges in a different way. With the abundances of new widgets, products, and services, it is becoming more difficult to create something sustainable yet unique.
Survival Skill #8: Empathy
Being able to empathize and understand multiple perspectives is even more important with globalization. Natural disasters, human rights issues, and wars are no longer isolated events to be ignored but are part of a shared dialogue and must be understood as such.