In this short article, which appeared in the journal Educational Leadership, Tony Wagner presents a brief summary of his research on 21st century skills and academic rigor. Wagner spoke with several hundred business, nonprofit, philanthropic, and education leaders on the skills young people needed to have successful careers. Then he observed several classrooms to learn whether U.S. schools were teaching and testing the skills that matter most. Wagner concludes the article by suggesting ways in which schools can increase the rigor needed by students for the 21st century.
There is value in this somewhat dated (2008) Educational Leadership article that reflects teaching practices in US schools relative to preparing students for 21st Century skills. By identifying seven skills that are important for future citizens to be able to address and problem solve future challenges in the workplace and for society at large, the author helps profile the difference between current educational practice and those practices that will lead to greater competence. Specific classroom observations that are shared further illuminate this argument.