Apex Striving header image
Teaching Youth to Reach For Their Potential
≡ Menu

6 New Success Skills to Teach

6 New Skills to Teach

Josh Garskof wrote an article for Scholastic Magazine’s March edition titled the “Ready for Anything Mind”. In it, he outlines for both educators and parents alike, 6 new success skills to teach our students. Josh provides a compelling case for why students today need to be taught a core set of new skills beyond science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). In no way does he suggest that STEM skills are unimportant or unnecessary.  In fact, he assures us that the STEM skill set will be extremely important for everyone to have in the future. The key distinction of the new skills he proposes, are skills that experts say all kids will need in order to succeed in the future.

The 6 Success Skills to Teach

After reading “The Ready for Anything Mind”, I felt a strong affinity towards it. It’s probably because I consider myself a student of success and achievement, and because I have observed first hand many other skills that weren’t taught to me in school, but that were critical in the success of myself and others. The success skills that all 21st century students will need, and that all teachers should teach to ensure their student’s success, are to follow.

Skill 1: Problem Solving

The information age and the new global economy are requiring that to get ahead, students will need to be solutions-oriented. Problem solving, the ability to think critically, asking the right questions, digging deep for answers, and exploring all sides of a scenario to come up with ideal solutions is becoming more of a necessity every day. With the continued hyper-changes in technology and the increased connected-ness of society, employees with great problem solving skills will soon become the standard, and not the exception.

MentoringMinds.com is a wonderful teacher resource dedicated to helping teachers implement lessons and strategies that have a strong critical thinking focus.  For another robust teacher resource page specifically for problem solving exercises, visit TeacherVision.com.

Skill 2: Playing Well With Others

This success skill has always been a key to achievement, but it is not a skill that has been overly stressed in our education system.  It’s unfortunate too, because companies today are seeking out employees who are team players, goal-oriented, and willing to work together towards common goals more than ever.  Dale Carnegie wrote an book titled “How to Win Friends and Influence People”, it’s a shame he didn’t write a kids version, because mastering the skill of playing well with others is easier done when started early.

Here is a great article by SFGate.com that provides more insight on how districts are seeking to integrate social-emotional learning into the classroom.

Skill 3:  Tech Wise

Teaching students to be Tech Savvy is important in this day and age, but with technology expanding at an unrelenting pace, being Tech Wise will become ever more relevant.  To be able to use the key technologies of the day is to be Tech Savvy; however, students who are Tech Wise are able harness and navigate the endless creation of new websites, online tools, internet compatible gadgets, and social media trends.  Therefore, to teach students how to be tech wise, it will be important for teachers to stress a more rapid and deeper integration of student technology exposure.

A great resource that Josh Garskof pointed out in his article is code.org.  A few resources that I also think are good for students to start dabbling in to become more than tech savvy are: animoto.comstorybird.com, and toondo.com.

Skill 4: Thinking Spatially

Thinking spatially in the past was something that seemed to only be relegated to the geographic sciences.  However, to be able to have strong spatial awareness, which is, to be able to visualize and manipulate shapes and objects in one’s mind, is becoming more and more important as we head into the future.   Josh Garskof, quotes David Lubinksi, P.h.D, a psychology professor at Vanderbilt University, who states that the honing of spatial awareness skills is critical, and will be important in the future, as it is second only to basic math as a building block for STEM skills.

Top Notch Teaching provides some good movement activities to help teach students spatial awareness.

Skill 5: Communicating Clearly

With the rapid pace of technology constantly changing the way we communicate, students will not only need to be able to keep up with the changes, but they will also need to be taught how to effectively express their ideas and intentions, regardless of the means of communication.  As the world becomes more and more connected, more and more people will need to know how to communicate their ideas clearly; as the audiences will be larger than ever, words will travel faster than ever, while reputations will be easier to tarnish, yet take longer than ever to fix.

The SouthEast Education Network provides a compelling article on teaching effective communication skills early.  The author of that article provides a good resource for teaching effective communication skills in the classroom.

Skill 6: Out of the Box Thinking

Innovation, creative thinking, and originality are skills that are highly valued in our current global economy, but will be even more prized after we make a full transition into a knowledge economy.   In the past, there has been a heavy focus on testing students on predetermined formulas, and rote memorization.   Although, teachers have also sought to encourage students to use creativity and originality whenever possible, but then again, it has never been a significant focus of the educational system.   Both Josh and I agree that now is as good time as any to make the shift.

Speaking of shifts, visit Mind Shift to learn more about 10 ways you can teach innovation and out of the box thinking.  

From my perspective, it is easy to see how vital the teaching of these 6 new success skills will be to our students today, as they grow and graduate into the increasingly competitive world.

What are other skills you see as important? Please leave your comments and ideas below, so we can work together towards our students’ success.


Garskof J. (2014, March)  The Ready For Anything Mind. Scholastic Parent & Child – 21 Century Skills. 62-66.

by Nathan Lee

Nathan holds an MBA, has blogged on entrepreneurship, leadership, and business for the past decade, has served in a leadership role for one of the largest Non-Profit Organizations within the Financial Education Industry, and has a sincere passion for education and inspiring potential.

0 comments… add one

Leave a Comment