Mr Kemp NZ

5 skills students need to be contributing global citizens

Following up from the honor of being selected in Huffington Posts Top 12 Global Education Blogs of 2014/2015 I have been chosen again in this amazing group and for 2016/2017 will be contributing to Huffington Post’s Education blog once a month. This month we look to answer the following highly controversial question “What are the important skills, behaviors, and attitudes that students need to become contributing global citizens?” – here is my response:

In the 21st century, our learners are truly global citizens who are immersed in the world that they live both physically and virtually, or at least they should be.

I often ask myself, what will these students be doing 10/20 years from now, and every time I am faced with the same answer – I don’t know! We are teaching students for jobs that don’t exist yet. Sure there will be some of the jobs we see today, but for the most part, we just don’t know what the future holds.


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Educators need to provide students with the behaviors, knowledge & skills to become responsible global citizens who can take action to solve a problem either individually or with others. So what are the important skills, behaviors, and attitudes that students need to become contributing global citizens? Here is my list of the 5 skills (there are many more, but these are the ones I perceive to be most important) I believe students need to demonstrate:

  1. Being a creative thinker – the ability to ‘think outside the box’ is an important skill for students to have as we prepare them for a world that is in a constant state of change. Creative thinking is a skill that comes naturally to a lot of children and can help in the engagement of learning throughout life. This can be tied to meaningful tasks that challenge them in an imaginative way.
  2. Being a problem solver – the ability to solve problems independently and with others is critical for the future where we will face many challenges that need out of the box thinking to solve. These complex problems that are currently unimaginable will be abundant and the more we develop children to find effect solutions to real-world problems (like stated in the IB curriculum) the more successful they will be.
  3. Being able to collaborate – the ability to work with others and be sociable. Children are naturally curious and social through their use of social media and other instant networks. When schools do not provide opportunities for students to learn in this way through digital channels they become disengaged. Collaboration is an essential skill to help them learn and support their emotional well-being, especially in a time of constant change.
  4. Being able to communicate effectively – the ability to communicate effectively means to communicate in the most appropriate way depending on the course of action required. Communication incorporates interactions that are both verbal and non-verbal, so it is essential for children to understand the diverse nature of this skill. Being fluent in communicating with technology is essential in the digital world we live, for both using digital media and interacting on a personal level.
  5. Being ethical and empathetic – the ability to do the right thing, even when nobody is watching. The ability to be selfless, caring and helpful and respectful of others religions, cultures, races, and genders. This is one of the most critical skills that a 21st-century learner will need in my opinion as we move to a world that is safer, more harmonic and more respectful in every way. For children, this means to be able to be at 100% with everything they do both online and offline.

What do you think are the most important skills, behaviors, and attitudes and how do they differ from what I have provided above? I would love to hear your thoughts via Facebook, Twitter or commenting below …. Your voice is important, let it be heard!

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Craig Kemp

Craig Kemp

I am a passionate Global EdTech Consultant based in Singapore but working with Schools and EdTech companies all over the world. I am a lifelong learner, dream creator and thought leader. I love to inspire others and find inspiration. Co-founder of #whatisschool, #asiaED edchats and #pubPD.

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  • Nice list Craig. Hard to argue with your selections. I’d maybe reframe #2 to – Being curious (which in turn leads to various by-products like Being a problem solver).

  • A great list with essential skills-totally agree with your choices. Interesting that all of them are underpinned by the competencies of emotional intelligence 🙂

  • As a long time advocate of student engagement, I totally agree. The skill sets we develop in kids may, indeed, be more relevant for their futures than the content knowledge they learn. Teachers don’t develop skills (e.g., communications, collaboration, teamwork, social) in children through curriculum; teachers develop skills through their pedagogy. How we teach may, indeed, be more important for children than what we teach. I currently serve as the Director of Educational Leadership for Kagan Professional Development, and we carry that message to educators across our country and around the world. Thanks for sharing.

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