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21st Century Skills and Design Thinking

KCDS is very cognizant of the skills your child needs as a 21st Century student. Some of these skills are the same as when you were in school, but of course, some are not. Students in elementary school will need skills for jobs not yet invented. Long gone are the days when you could simply ask a child, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Once upon a time a child would say he or she wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, banker, teacher, scientist, etc. Now the question should be "What problems do you want to solve in the world?" Many experts agree that kids today need to grow up to be global citizens, creative problem solvers, makers, and collaborators with a strong digital fluency. Having said that, how do you go about teaching students the skills of the future when you have no idea what those jobs will look like, or the problems they will one day need to solve?

Simply put, you give students relevant learning activities in which they are engaged in critical thinking, design, collaboration, iteration, creativity, and reflection. Activities and assignments that push students to use higher-level critical thinking skills, while encouraging collaboration, communication, and empathy help to develop and hone students' problem solving skills. Activities that encourage the iteration process lead to another important 21st Century Skill KCDS believes is equally important, resiliency. How well do the students handle failure? Do they understand that there is not always one right answer? Do they get back up and try again? The best way to teach this important skill, as well as the other skills mentioned, is to encourage and practice them regularly.

Design Thinking has been around for a long time in the entrepreneurial world, but has recently come to the forefront in education. The process allows problem solvers of any age a chance to create innovative new solutions to problems. In a classroom, it is an opportunity for all students to fully engage in learning through a process that encourages deep understanding, creative confidence, iteration, collaboration, implementation, feedback, resiliency, and reflection. With practice, Design Thinking becomes a mindset. One where thoughts like, "I don't know, but I will figure it out," and "That didn't work, but I will try again," and "Two or three heads are better than one," become the norm. A mindset that doesn't see failure as "failure," but as a step in the right direction. A step towards the future.

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