- Curiosity and/or imagination beyond what is in front of you
- Critical thinking
- Ability to research independently and weigh accuracy of sources
- Entrepreneurship and the ability to take calculated risks
- Collaborative skills and the ability to know when to step in and give leadership and when to step back and follow leadership
- Effective communication
I think Wagner was very thorough with his list… However I think his view is too narrow. He defines “Survival Skills” almost exclusively through the lens of being successful in work. I want my students to be successful in work BUT even more than that I want them to be successful in living a fulfilling, happy life. Having a meaningful job that pays well enough to live on is only one piece of that life. In view of this, my list has been modified from Wagner’s to include broader categories that apply to both work circumstances and personal life. For example, collaborative skills and the ability to know when to step in and give leadership and when to step back and follow leadership is as important to building personal relationships at home as it is in the office.
I have reordered my list in order of how important incorporation of the particular principle is to me in my classroom. Incorporating the skill of tapping into your own personal curiosity or imagination could be done by presenting specific biological problems and asking students to design or imagine solutions. Critical thinking will be built in through asking students to think deeply about what they learn by prompting with deep level questions according to Bloom’s taxonomy. Another important skill that ranks highly on my list is the ability to research independently and weigh accuracy of sources. This skill is 3rd on my list because I think incorporating it into a science class is especially important in light of the digital age we live in where every person has an opinion and only some of the information available online is accurate. Assigning research projects where students have to do research and weigh the accuracy of sources would be one way to do this. Having students plan their own research would enable students to learn entrepreneurship skills and develop the ability to take calculated risks. Assigning well structured group projects (where each student must contribute and is responsible for his or her own contribution) is a good way to develop collaboration skills and the ability to discern when to step up and lead and when to follow a leader. Finally, assigning meaningful projects will serve as motivation for students to put in quality work… especially in terms of communicating about this to their peers. Doing so will help develop students’ communication skills.
This year I have committed to modified versions of all of the above. Because of my school’s schedule I have students in and out of my classroom every 4 weeks. This constant shuffle makes building long term goals difficult. Therefore my focus has been on developing scaffolds for students to learn these skills that at a school site where I had students longer term I would eventually phase out.