Stop Blinging it and Start Bringing it: 21st century skills

Nowadays we bling everything. Bling refers to the imaginary shine and sound a diamond makes when it is hit perfectly by the light. Today we bling our car, phone and bags. In education, we also bling. We take the newest, shiniest trend word and we bling it out. We use it at meetings, we use it in lesson plans, we literally drink from the blingedwater of the educational buzzword fountain. This got me thinking: When are we going to stop blinging it and start bringing it? How can we take the buzzwords and apply them as examples of great education? In a few short blogposts I will look at some of the current buzzwords and explore how they are (ab)used and how they can be applied in learning. Today I dive into 21st century skills.

21 century skills

21st century skills is a buzzword. It has to do with preparing students for a world that does not yet exist. Without further investigation educators often translate it as being all about technology. Some educators assume they are building these skills if they are using some sort of tech in the classroom. There is much more to 21st century skills than iPads and Smartboards.


In todays world many employers find current students lacking in soft skills like collaboration, problem solving, oral communication, and leadership. It is suggested that the best preparation for today’s job market is a mix of academic learning, practical experience that is applied in real-world experiences. This is where 21st century skills come into play.

Processed with VSCO with s2 preset
Processed with VSCO with s2 preset

creativity, innovation and empowerment

When building 21st century skills, we must also include life and innovation skills along with the traditional core subjects. The fact that creativity is back on the educational scene makes me so happy. Curriculum development goes to an interesting phase. As we prepare students for the information age, curriculum revision must be constant to meet the changing needs of our global society. And as we can see, it isn’t easy for education, policy-makers and curriculum development.
So it’s more important to stretch their learning and innovation ‘muscles’ of students by allowing them to design their own projects to demonstrate their knowledge. Provide them with oppertunities to build communities of learners, sharing knowlegde and working multi-disciplinairy. So they develop 21st century skills and technology is also part of it.

active learning

When I strip away all the bling, I realize this is just coaching active learning. Sparking curiosity, asking students ‘why’, encouraging questions, disagreements, and demonstrations by tapping into life skills, innovation attitudes and relevant experiences are strategies that help us to step outside of our traditional school boxes and prepare our students for their tomorrows in a way that makes sense for them. So it’s time we stop with the Buzzword Bling and start bringing it to our classrooms with experiences that truly drive student learning.

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