The rising need to instill 21st century skills in children – Smita Mishra

The rising need to instill 21st century skills in children

Ms. Smita Mishra, Principal, Karl Huber School, Noida

In this digitally interconnected world, all learners, from cradle to career, need new skills and knowledge to succeed in life. If we want to prepare our children for success in work and life, opportunities to learn 21st-century skills are essential. They not only provide a framework for successful learning in the classroom, but also ensure that students thrive in a world where change is constant and learning never stops.

21st century skills which consist of knowledge construction, problem solving, techniques, communication skills, team work, expertise on usage of new technologies and self-regulation are sought out by today’s employers in this ever-changing environment.

Why are 21st century skills development imperative?

•  To make students adapt to this ever-changing world.

•  To make them future ready.

Different categories of 21st century skills

1.         Learning – Critical thinking, Creativity, Collaboration, Communication

2.         Literacy – Information literacy, Media literacy, Technology literacy

3.         Life – Flexibility, Initiative, Social Skills, Productivity, Leadership

How to impart 21st century skills in students

•  Encourage play-based learning

•  Break down learning into smaller coordinated pieces

•  Foster nurturing relationships

•  Allow time to focus

•  Offer appropriate appreciation and praise

•  Offer engaged care-giving

•  Use a hands-on approach

Right time to teach these skills

While these skills can be taught at any grade level, we find it is most important to teach 21st Century skills in middle or early high school.

Challenges and Obstacles

•  Insufficient capacity: There are not many trained and skilled trainers available. The faculty needs to be motivated and skilled to take up higher and newer responsibilities.

•  Mobilisation and mindset: The outlook of people associated with skill development is still very traditional. To impart 21st century skills to students sometimes become an extremely challenging task. 

•  Scalability: The extent to which these skills are being imparted is very limited and is not seen much into many areas as it should have been.

•  Skills mismatch: There is a lot of mismatch between the skills needed by the industry and the skills imparted by the educational and training institutes.

•  Lack of Interaction: There is lack of industry-faculty interaction because of which the skill set taught by the educational and training institutes does not end up best suited to the industry’s requirements.

Ms. Smita Mishra is a passionate educator, a dynamic communicator, and a self-motivated individual. At present she is the Principal at Karl Huber School, Noida. She has her Masters in Life Sciences, from Delhi University.
In her long ongoing carrier span of 22 years, she has successfully completed a teaching span of 17 years along with 5-years in administration.
She is an active resource person in CBSE training sessions, taking webinars on NEP, Life skills, Bloom’s taxonomy, 21st century skills and many more. She has trained three district principals on NEP. Currently, she is ranking number one position for the same.
She has contributed towards drafting NEP (National Education Policy) by the Min. of Education in the renowned Banasthali University, Jaipur.
Under her leadership, many street shows and plays on importance of literacy were conducted at Gandhi Smriti and Darshan Samiti, under the Ministery of Culture, Gov. of India. During her entire career, she has received numerous awards including Excellence award by the prestigious Mewar Institute of Management for her contributions in the field of Education.
Her vision is to guide, motivate, and counsel students to build up their morale, especially during COVID pandemic.
In her own words “Be in the race of progression, not perfection. Work on forming a well-formed mind instead of a well filled mind”.

Areas in which 21st century skills are a boon 

•  Knowledge construction

   1. Anchors the development of 21st century skills

   2. Students need to be able to have background knowledge in order to perform the skills in an authentic context

•  Real-world problem solving (project-based learning)

   1. To solve problems that have no current solution

   2. Where the students are given free hand to implement their own approach

   3. Students learn to be creative and learn from failures

   4. Students develop knowledge in a meaningful way, regulate their cognition and behaviour in a way to reach their goals

   5. Gain experience defending their choices through evidence and effective communication skills


   1. A must for independent learners

   2. Students can plan their approach to problem solving, monitor their progress, and reflect on their work and give feedback

   3. Students motivate themselves to control impulses in order to efficiently solve problems

•  Team work

   1. Students take on roles and interact with one another in groups while working to produce a product

   2. Collaborative interactions that include taking on leadership roles, making decisions, building trust, communicating, reflecting, and managing conflicts

   3. Students who collaborate solve problems at higher levels than students who work individually

•  Effective communication

   1. A necessary process to successfully employ knowledge construction and real-world problem solving techniques

   2. Encourage participation, build rapport with students and establish credibility with the class

   3. An important part of being able to communicate successfully to connect a product to the needs of a specific audience

•  Information & communication technology

   1. Enables greater learner autonomy 

   2. Unlocks hidden potential of those with communication difficulties

   3. Enables students to demonstrate achievement in ways which might not be possible with traditional methods

   4. ICT systems allow your business to store, process, analyse and share vast amounts of data

   5. ICT enables the use of innovative educational resources and learning methods, and acquisition of technological knowledge

While communication and collaboration allow a student to work with others to build their conceptual knowledge and work toward a solution to their real-world problem, self-regulation is an internal process that occurs simultaneously. Information and communication technology provides tools for the students to facilitate and improve communication and collaboration.

The 21st century is not in the distant future – it is today. We do not have even a moment to lose in preparing our students, and nation to compete and succeed. There is a need to ensure that students who graduate the K-12 system are adept in 21st Century skills so that they can be successful in this new workforce landscape.

Not only do 21st Century skills help students to be successful in all areas of formal schooling, these are also necessary for every person so that they can adapt and thrive in the ever-changing world for successful survival.