3 Knowledge Domains For The 21st Century Student


3 Knowledge Domains For The 21st Century Student

07/08/2013, Terry Heick


Thinking in the 21st century is just different. (Also here https://stemreadings.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/how-21st-century-thinking-is-just-different/)

That doesn’t mean we’re all suddenly omnipotent cyborgs, nor does it mean we’ve all become mindless social media addicts that spend our cognitive might tapping, swiping, and drooling on our smartphone and tablet screens.

But just as the 19th century presented unique challenges to information processing than the 18th or 20th, the 21st century is different than the one before, or that the one that will come after.

punyamishra.com recently released the following graphic that I thought was interesting, mainly in that it identified knowledge types for modern learning, settling on Foundational, Humanistic, and Meta Knowledge.

3 Knowledge Domains For The 21st Century Student

1. Foundational Knowledge (To Know)

Digital/ICT Literacy, Core Content Knowledge, Cross-disciplinary Knowledge

2. Humanistic Knowledge (To Value)

Life/Job Skills, Ethical/Emotional Awareness, Cultural Competence

3. Meta Knowledge (To Act)

Creativity and Innovation, Problem-Solving and Critical Thinking, Communication and Collaboration

Using This Model In Your Classroom

The simplest way to use this kind of model in your classroom is to consider it as a kind of framework for planning, whether at the unit, lesson, or activity level. In that way, you could try to have a balance across the three knowledge domains, or one unit heavily pursuant of Humanistic Knowledge (a To Kill A Mockingbird novel study, for example), while another project-based learning unit focuses on Meta Knowledge.

But on a broader and perhaps more subjective level, this graphic can serve as a simple reminder than our jobs as teachers are to help students understand how to know, value, and act no matter that the majority of these seem to beyond common classroom assessment tools.

The big idea of all learning then may start with knowing, which leads to valuing, which informs action in relevant and authentic communities.


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