Imagine - Think - Create - Innovate

21st Century Skills

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills (P21) was founded in 2002 as a coalition bringing together the business community, education leaders, and policymakers to position 21st century readiness at the center of US K-12 education and to kick-start a national conversation on the importance of 21st century skills for all students.

21st Century Skills are based on research and describe the skills, knowledge and expertise students must master to succeed in work and life. 21st Century Skills Partnership believe schools must move to include not only focus on mastery of core subjects, but also promote understanding of academic content at much higher levels by weaving 21st century interdisciplinary themes such as Global Awareness, and a focus on creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration and career readiness.

21st Century Skills – Collaboration, Communication, Creativity, Critical Thinking, Innovation and Career Readiness skills of Grit, Self-Efficacy and Self-Direction.

The arts develop broad capacities beyond arts skills and discipline knowledge. Research links the broad capacities discussed here to school success and college and career readiness. Capacities that are identified as BOTH being developed through the arts and contributing to future success include:

  • Creativity: To generate new ideas, innovations and products
  • Critical Thinking and Problem Solving
  • Collaboration: to work effectively with others
  • Communication: the ability to express one’s thoughts and emotions and listen effectively to others
  • Grit: Perseverance and passion for long-term goals
  • Self-Efficacy: Belief in one’s ability to learn and perform effectively



Think Creatively

  • Use a wide range of idea creation techniques (such as brainstorming)
  • Create new and worthwhile ideas (both incremental and radical concepts)
  • Elaborate, refine, analyze and evaluate their own ideas in order to improve and maximize

creative efforts

Work Creatively with Others

  • Develop, implement and communicate new ideas to others effectively
  • Be open and responsive to new and diverse perspectives; incorporate group input and feedback into the work
  • Demonstrate originality and inventiveness in work and understand the real world limits to adopting new ideas



Reason Effectively

  • Use various types of reasoning (inductive, deductive, etc.) as appropriate to the situation

Use Systems Thinking

  • Analyze how parts of a whole interact with each other to produce overall outcomes in complex systems

Make Judgments and Decisions

  • Effectively analyze and evaluate evidence, arguments, claims and beliefs
  • Analyze and evaluate major alternative points of view
  • Synthesize and make connections between information and arguments
  • Interpret information and draw conclusions based on the best analysis
  • Reflect critically on learning experiences and processes

Solve Problems

  • Solve different kinds of non-familiar problems in both conventional and innovative ways
  • Identify and ask significant questions that clarify various points of view and lead to better solutions



Communicate Clearly

  • Articulate thoughts and ideas effectively using oral, written and nonverbal communication skills in a variety of forms and contexts
  • Listen effectively to decipher meaning, including knowledge, values, attitudes and intentions
  • Use communication for a range of purposes (e.g. to inform, instruct, motivate and persuade)
  • Utilize multiple media and technologies, and know how to judge their effectiveness
  • Communicate effectively in diverse environments (including multi-lingual)

Collaborate with Others

  • Demonstrate ability to work effectively and respectfully with diverse teams
  • Exercise flexibility and willingness to be helpful in making necessary compromises to accomplish a common goal
  • Assume shared responsibility for collaborative work, and value the individual contributions made by each team member



Interact Effectively with Others

  • Know when it is appropriate to listen and when to speak
  • Conduct themselves in a respectable, professional manner

Work Effectively in Diverse Teams

  • Respect cultural differences and work effectively with people from a range of social and cultural backgrounds
  • Respond open-mindedly to different ideas and values
  • Leverage social and cultural differences to create new ideas and increase both innovation and quality of work.



Grit entails working strenuously toward goals through challenges, maintaining effort and interest over time despite difficulty and adversity.  Achievement is a marathon

  • Perseverance, Tenacity, Stamina
  • Deliberate Practice
  • Ability to Delay Gratification
  • Passion-Driven Focus
  • Self Control and Self Discipline
  • Long Term Goal-Oriented
  • Stick-to-it-ness Under Difficult Conditions
  • Consistency of Effort



Manage Goals and Time

  • Set goals with tangible and intangible success criteria
  • Balance tactical (short-term) and strategic (long-term) goals
  • Utilize time and manage workload efficiently

Work Independently

  • Monitor, define, prioritize and complete tasks without direct oversight

Be Self-directed Learners

  • Go beyond basic mastery of skills and/or curriculum to explore and expand one’s own learning and opportunities to gain expertise
  • Demonstrate initiative to advance skill levels towards a professional level
  • Demonstrate commitment to learning as a lifelong process
  • Reflect critically on past experiences in order to inform future progress

Arts integration is a perfect vehicle to demonstrate and show how the  21st Century skills of critical thinking, collaboration, creativity and innovation and communication can be reinforced and taught through integrated units.  The arts process is naturally one of creating, communicating and responding to the art form.  Students are taught within each arts discipline to problem solve, find innovative and new interpretations and solutions, and belief that with practice and perseverance, quality and success will happen.  In a visual arts integrated unit on symmetry, critical thinking may be used to examine two paintings that have symmetry. Students learn to understand symmetry through the discussion.  Several other paintings and photographs are examined and students decide through analysis using the previous definition whether there is symmetry evident.   Students brainstorm in collaborative groups other things in nature and the world around them that are symmetrical.  Specific processes are used in the group collaboration, again protocols that teachers will learn that can be transferable back to other situations in their classroom, like brainstorming techniques and processes, consensus building, and decision making. Each group then creates pieces of art work to communicate one example of symmetry.  The medium being used is demonstrated and practiced as well as examples shown.  The project could be painted or torn paper construction, or color pencil as decided ahead of time.  These are hung in a “gallery walk” activity within the room and elements of art and design as well as meeting the definition of symmetry are reflected upon.  Within all arts disciplines the college readiness 21st century skills of effort, persistence and belief that everyone can be successful are built in into the processes, practices and lessons.  Problem solving and creative solutions and innovations are

Finally, in the arts all voices are heard and every point of view and perspective accepted and welcomed.  When integrating curriculum and concepts from two different core subjects, culturally responsive teaching occurs when teachers recognize there are multiple ways of perceiving reality and the open ended questions and discussion protocols in the arts honor each student’s perspective and affirm student’s views.  Teachers also can develop a cultural diverse knowledge base through the arts.  By including diverse cultures art, traditions and beliefs in the professional development in arts integration teachers can attain cultural competence and can acknowledge, respect and build on the knowledge, beliefs and experiences their students bring with them.  Several examples are integrated classes such as studies in clothing and housing as part of a social studies unit.  Integrated professional development can explore uses of a variety of cloths made out of bark that are used both in housing and clothing.  Tapa cloth of the South Seas, mud cloth, adinkra and adire cloths of Western Africa and silk of kimonos of Asia can be explored.  The social studies standards in geography and use of products in the environment combined with cultural beliefs, symbols and uses in ceremonies and festivals.  Art projects can demonstrate the creation of tapa and the Western African cloths,  or Japanese crest designs can be explored and students can create a crest depicting their culture to use on a piece of clothing or hang in their house.   Integrated arts professional development promotes cultural sensitivity, and how a teacher thinks about the cultures of their students as they infuse culture into the curriculum.  Another example would be an Arts integrated professional development class that integrates shadow puppetry with culturally diverse literature and folktales.  Study of the stories and their messages are combined with the skills of making shadow puppets and stages.

Imagine! Think! Create! Innovate! Arts Are The Answer.

Arts engage, and improve critical thinking. Arts give students a way to show what they know. Research shows imagination, creativity and innovation are the future

Arts Are The Answer promotes the arts in all sectors of our society. Learning in and through the arts is beneficial for all learners and increases student achievement through engagement and student enthusiasm.

Research shows arts in schools increase students achievement in many ways. See the research and studies with schools that have infused the arts. . .

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Arts Are The Answer

2306 23rd Ave SW, 
Puyallup, WA 98371