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Character Development and Transferable Skills in the 21st Century

Author: Mark Page-Botelho Posted: 2014-03-07

Character development is a key component to any program in education. Without the development of social aspects being taught to the child, a program cannot be considered holistic. With transferable skills they both should be the basis of any school initiative or program. It can be defined as universal attributes that the learning community find to be necessary for a person's standard for behavior (Finding Common Ground, 2008). Without, or a lack of, character development in a curriculum it can lead to an atmosphere that is negative and counterproductive for all members of the learning community where the strong survive and the meek hide. In addition, it must be a whole school effort and needs to be integrated in all aspects of school life and cross-curricular in order to be effective (Finding Common Ground, 2008).

Much has been written about transferable skills for employment, but little has been done in the realm of education. Schools are often only focused on the aspects of education that one sees, such as test scores, and the equipment being used. Education in order to be effective and meaningful needs to concentrate on the higher order, often difficult to measure attributes or skills of learning such as good citizenship, good health habits, research, inter and intrapersonal interactions, problem solving, creativity and innovation to name a few. There are more skills that are important, but they all share the same traits of being applicable to every grade level, and cross-curricular.

Schools that spend time and effort in addressing the negative aspects attributed to the lack of character development or transferable skills training are wasting resources that could be put to better use. Purchasing equipment and software to manage devices and to police student use, or creating after school programs to force students to be accountable for missed work all are signs that a school's effort to create a well-rounded citizen have failed or are lacking. When schools treat the symptoms they are misguided in their approach to education. The answer even for schools with negative aspects present is to prevent these issues from surfacing in the first place. This is never an easy task and takes effort from all members of the learning community.

Technology integration as with other subject areas should be based on transferable skills as many if not most of the technologies used today will not exist or will be very different from the form they take on today (, 2013). In regards to technology education, schools can use pre-existing frameworks where character development and transferable technology use are interwoven from organizations such as International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21), and Common Sense Media to guide their efforts. With the combination and effort focusing on character development and transferable skills, schools will become more effective and their efforts more meaningful over the long term. These skills will carry forward with students and will be applicable to every aspect of their everyday lives. (2013). [online] Retrieved from: [Accessed: 7 Mar 2014].

Finding Common Ground. 2008. Finding Common Ground: Character Development in Ontario Schools, K-12. [PDF] Ontario: Queen???s Printer for Ontario. Available through: Ministry of Education [Accessed: March 2014].


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