21st century skills are more important now than ever as employers seek diverse thinkers who are knowledgeable in a wide range of fields and who are able to creatively solve problems.
Competencies commonly associated with 21st century skills include critical thinking, problem solving, creativity, innovation, perseverance, self-direction, collaboration and teamwork. The rapidly changing world requires students to be equipped with cross-disciplinary skills in order to be successful in furthering their education and to meet the challenges in the workplace.
For almost 80 years, Kimberton Waldorf School has been providing a multimodality, integrated education with a curriculum based on the developmental needs of the child, validated in scientific research. Our unique approach to education utilizes movement, music, arts, and handwork to strengthen academics and help develop motor skills, focus, perseverance, creativity, and critical thinking.
Emphasis on the breadth of skills and opportunities that we value in childhood and in adulthood provides a reminder that education needs to be designed to produce holistically developed learners who are well-equipped to navigate the challenges of life in the 21st century.
Studies demonstrate that the arts develop neural systems that produce a broad spectrum of benefits ranging from fine motor skills to creativity and improved emotional balance – the driving force behind all other learning.
Creativity is nurtured as students learn to approach tasks from different perspectives and to think “outside the box.” Artistic creations are the result of problem solving. Students’ typically ask themselves: How do I form this clay into a sculpture? How do I step into my role in the play? How will my character react in this situation? How am I going to learn this piece of music?
Movement activities in younger grades, such as circle time, handwork, string games, or playing on a balance board may appear as simple play in the classroom are actually promoting growth toward skills acquisition. The same regions of the brain responsible for movement are also involved in higher level thinking such as problem solving, creating, designing, and anticipating outcomes.
Observational learning is another key component in skills acquisition. When students contemplate a phenomenon with deep curiosity, they are able to hypothesize potential outcomes before testing for the actual answer. Divergent, creative thinking occurs, which is essential for innovation and solving problems.
The goal of Waldorf education and the curriculum at KWS is to provide students with opportunities and training to become autonomous, creative thinkers with the ability to accelerate their ideas into actions. An education that asks students to develop the capacities for collaboration and teamwork, creativity and imagination, critical thinking, and problem solving is an education that prepares students for what lies ahead.
Read more in our article Equipping Students with Skills for Lifelong Success