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Focus Areas

What is 21st Century Learning?

21st Century Learning has been given many names, including Project-Based Learning, Big-Picture Learning, Deeper Learning, Investigative Learning, Child-Centered Learning and even GATE (“Gifted and Talented Education”). In all of its varied expressions, 21st Century Learning is a hands-on, integrated, and cross-disciplinary teaching/learning methodology that engages students completely. It focuses on the need for agility and adaptability; recognizes the importance of and builds initiative and a spirit of entrepreneurialism; develops all modes of communication; leverages and incorporates technology and digital media, and places utmost stress on critical thinking and problem solving.

Recently, much attention has been given to the over-testing of students to comply with the proficiency requirements of No Child Left Behind by 2014, with an ill-effect of producing high school graduates that are burnt-out, having retained little of the “facts” they’ve learned over the previous 13 years. The aim of 21st Century Learning is to educate the whole student through the development of skills using relevant, creative, and inspirational curriculum and teamwork. Through this educational process, students are prepared for a 21st Century workforce by developing and honing the “Seven Survival Skills” outlined in Tony Wagner’s The Global Achievement Gap, thus preparing them for the challenges they will face as workers and citizens:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Collaboration across networks and leading by influence
  • Agility and adaptability
  • Initiative and adaptability
  • Effective oral and written communications
  • Accessing and analyzing information
  • Curiosity and imagination


This exemplary video from San Diego’s High Tech High Founder and CEO Larry Rosenstock perfectly illustrates 21st Century Learning in action.


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