What are life skills?

Life skills equip students to thrive in the classroom and in the world beyond. The 21st century life skills are flexibility, initiative, social skills, productivity, and leadership.

Flexibility

Given the rapid rate of change in our world, the ability to adjust and adapt is critical to success. Students need to learn to quickly analyze what is going on around them and make adjustments on the fly—all the while keeping their goals at the forefront of their minds. Flexibility is not spinelessness. In fact, a spine needs to be flexible to allow the person to move while remaining upright with eyes on the prize.

Initiative

The entrepreneurial spirit is founded on initiative—the willingness to step forward with an idea and take the risk of bringing it to fruition. The changing economic landscape requires entrepreneurs. Students need to learn how to set goals for themselves, plan how they will reach their goals, and enact their plans. Once students feel comfortable with charting their own course, they will readily launch into activity.

Social Skills

Human beings have always been social creatures, connecting to and depending on a tribe of some hundred others. Technology now allows people to belong to multiple tribes—students at the same school, friends on Facebook, fans on fan sites, gamers on massively multiplayer online games. In all of these environments, social skills are critical.

The best way for students to develop social skills is to collaborate with others. When students work together on a project, they have common goals and interests, they are required to develop social skills such as these: cooperation, compromise, decision making, communicating, trusting others, coordinating work.

Productivity

By using the inquiry process and developing projects, students learn the habits of productivity: Goal setting, planning, time management, research, development, evaluation, revision, application.

Leadership

Leadership is a suite of related skills that combines the other life skills. Good leaders take initiative, have strong social skills, are flexible, and are productive. They also do the following: Identify goals, inspire others to share those goals, organize a group so that all members can contribute according to their abilities, resolve conflicts among members, encourage the group to reach their goals and help group members solve problems and improve performance.