Minimum Literacy Skills in the 21st Century Essay

Total Length: 1906 words ( 6 double-spaced pages)

Total Sources: 8

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21st Century Knowledge

There was probably a point in time in the not-so-recent past when it could be asserted that many to most people in the modern world did not need to possess scientific knowledge, skills and understanding. However, as the society and technology of the world, the West in particular, becomes more advanced and demanding, this is becoming less and less true and some would say that entirely too many people in today's society are woefully unprepared when it comes to possessing skills that are needed for a modern context and society. To be sure, the assertion being made does not mean that everyone is destined to work in hi-tech fields and thus will need advanced degrees and training. However, the proverbial bar that signifies what is needed for the "average" person has certainly gone up. While advance training and degrees are not necessary for the average person, everyone out there would be well-served to have at least a basic understanding of scientific concepts and ideas so as to survive and thrive in today's modern society.


There was indeed a time and a day in the history of the developed world where not possessing at least basic scientific skills and training could be something that could be gotten away with. However, as our society becomes more advanced and hi-tech in nature, this is becoming less and less true. As noted in the introduction, this does not mean that everyone can or should be rocket scientists or something else that is cutting edge and that requires advanced training. However, there is a reason why "simple" careers are being shipped overseas. For example, it is entirely reasonable for high-tech manufacturing to be done in the more developed countries. However, simpler things like clothes and such are shipped overseas, usually to parts of Asia. Manufacturing is just one iteration and example of a wider paradigm that is basically requiring and compelling people to be more advanced and educated, at least on a street smarts level. For example, if someone's car is acting up or will not start, an "average" person should be able to figure out what is probably wrong based on what is happening, what is not happening and so forth. Indeed, that sort of thing just takes a little trial and error and quick tests. For sure, a professional or at least a journeyman should be the one that actually works on the car. However, people using a little scientific reasoning so as to figure things out would be extremely useful and wise given the advanced nature of today's technology and social structures, at least as they exist in many situations.

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Even if an average reader scoffs at the suggestions and the assertions of the author above, they would probably take pause when they see the work of many scientists and teachers, just to name two fields, when they tackle the same topic and the same questions. For example, there is the recent treatise by the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA) that says bawsically the same thing. They note that the world is rapidly changing when it comes to things to technological advancement, scientific innovation and globalization shifts. This in turn has shifted what the "average" person does or does not in terms of daily life and it has also shifted what is demanded when it comes to the educational and employment opportunities in the developed world. Given all that, the NSTA has gone so far as to say that they "acknowledge(s) the need for and importance of 21st century skills within the context of science education and advocates for the science education community to support 21st century skills consistent with best practices across a pre-K-16 science education system" (NSTA, 2016).

To be clear, the author of this report and others are not merely talking about the skills that would be needed for the workplace. Instead, many to most of the people that speak on this subject clearly say that these skills will be needed for daily life. As an example, there are many that suggest that the entering of the 21st century has made it clear that success in life is dependent on a number of factors. These include a mastery of a number of things including effective goal setting, organization, planning, memorization, shifting and self-monitoring. Beyond that, the imparting of knowledge about this subject should begin early and often and should be reinforced as gets older and wiser, not to mention more adept when it comes to modern skills and abilities. When it comes to real-world results and what is really going on, the results are mixed. For example, people that play video games tend to gain a few advanced skills from paying attention to and being immersed in those environments. However, those same people are easily distracted and otherwise do not perform as well when there is less sensory information stimulating them (Flinders, 2016).

The Berkeley University is quick to assert that the skills and traits that are needed in this modern world should not scare….....

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Berkeley. (2016). What is science?. Retrieved 6 August 2016, from

Flinders. (2016). Learning for life in the 21st Century. Flinders. Retrieved 6 August 2016, from

NIPP. (2016). 21st Century Skills for Success - The National Institute for Professional Practice. Retrieved 6 August 2016, from

NRC. (2010). Science Teacher Readiness for Developing 21st Century Skills. National Academies Press (U.S.). Retrieved from

NSTA. (2016). NSTA Position Statement: Quality Science Education and 21st-Century Skills. Retrieved 6 August 2016, from

RAND. (2012). Teaching and Learning 21st Century Skills: Lessons from the Learning Sciences - RAND. Retrieved 6 August 2016, from

STEM. (2016). Maine. COSEE Ocean Systems. Retrieved 6 August 2016, from

Turiman, P., Omar, J., Daud, A., & Osman, K. (2012). Fostering the 21st Century Skills through Scientific Literacy and Science Process Skills. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 59, 110-116.

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