Nathan Mielke on his Be of Use blog echoes a complaint I've long had:
...I am soooooooo sick of hearing about 21st Century Learning, 21st Century Skills, 21st Century ad nauseam. Isn't there a better way to phrase this for everyday conversation? Perhaps we need to stick with this so everyone hears consistent jargon, but I don't think people overall have the right idea of what it means. I would imagine if we polled our staff or parents they would say its technology or computer skills. That couldn't be further from the truth. If I say higher order thinking skills I think that's pretty clear (at least to me) of what that means. I worry 21st Century means the Jetsons or Star Trek to all too many people.
He goes on to suggest Tony Wagner's term survival skills. Hmmmm, I was sort of hoping my school's grads would not just survive, but thrive. Thrival skills? Way too cute.
A dozen years ago, I used the term "Knowledge Worker Skills" and attempted to describe them. (This was shortly after being terrified by Friedman's book The World is Flat. While "knowledge worker skills" has more of a vocational ring to it than I'd like (these should be whole life - not just work - skills), it's more descriptive than "21st Century Skills."
Johnson’s Hierarchy of “Knowledge Worker Skills”
So what's the best term to use for this set of skills that are now important for everyone to master if they are to be employed and employable in a post-industrial economy? Where problem-solving, creativity, and initiative are the new "basic" skills?
Or will 21st Century Sklils be with us until, oh, 2200?