The Other 21st Century Skills

And how we need them in mathematics.

How do we teach students these skills? Why are they important in the math classroom?

There are lots of websites that help educators foster and develop these traits in their students. Here we'll give a definition of each and relate it to it's role in math learning. Further down the page are some websites and resources for developing these skills in the classroom.

How do you define grit?

Grit is a characteristic normally associated with sports and competition, but lately studies have been popping up all over concerning grit in education. Is it a necessary characteristic of learning? Many say yes. Loosely defined as having passion and persevering through obstacles, grit is just one of those things: you know when you see it. You definitely need grit in learning mathematics. Sometimes the hardest problems we solve also include many trials, but that's what makes them so rewarding in the end, the struggle!

What is resilience? Why do we need it?

The ability to bounce back after difficulty is called resilience. In mathematics, we need resilience in order to persevere in problem solving. Sometimes we hit a bump in the road. Sometimes we come to a road block. Sometimes the dynamite ignites and everything blows up. But if we are resilient, we come back. We try again and if we try again, we might succeed. Maybe not the second or third or fourth time, but its all those trials that teach us something and make the successes even greater.
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The Marshmallow Test
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Empathy & Global Stewardship

Empathy & global stewardship are super important 21st Century skills. To be empathetic is to not only understand how someone is feeling, but also not to pass judgement upon that person. When you are empathetic, you can connect with someone and their situation on a deeper level. In math, we must be empathetic of others' ideas and ways of thinking. We also must be empathetic of other people's struggles. In our classroom, we must create a learning environment where shame does not exist, but rather where productive struggle is welcomed and encouraged as part of the learning process. Global stewardship in today's world has many ramifications. We are all connected. The reality of this statement has never been more real then it is now that we can see, talk with or listen to anyone, anywhere, at any time. We should teach our students to say, "I see your self. I see your self in myself."

Angela Duckworth's Character Lab

Angela Duckworth studies character traits such as grit and it's effects on student achievement. Founded by Duckworth, Character Lab is a place where you can learn about character traits and the development of them.
Introduction to WOOP: A Goal Setting Experience
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Connections to the 8 Mathematical Practice Standards

There are so many connections between the practice standards in math and the other 21st Century skills. Interwoven throughout several of the standards are the characteristics of grit (MP 1) and resilience (MP 1), as well as empathy (MP 3) and self regulation (MP 6). How can you connect these character traits to mathematical practices in your classroom?