21st Century Fluencies 8

The 21st Century Fluencies are not about hardware, they are about headware and heartware.

We need to move our thinking beyond our primary focus on traditional literacy to an additional set of 21st-century fluencies that reflect the times we live in. That’s the essence of the 21st Century Fluencies! Today, it’s essential that all of our students have a wide range of skills that develop the ability to function within a rapidly changing society—skills far beyond those that were needed in the 20th century. These skills are not about technological prowess. The essential 21st Century Fluencies are not about hardware; they are about headware and heartware! This means critical thinking, problem-solving, creativity, innovation, and so much more. These aren’t just for the students, though. The 21st Century Fluencies are process skills that we all need, and there is as much benefit in cultivating them within yourself as within your classroom.

The Processes

It’s easy for us to say that kids need exceptional problem-solving skills. But what do these skills look like in the real world? What do they look like in the classroom? How do we teach them? How can students learn them? How can we assess them? We had the same questions, which is what led to the creation of the 21st century Fluencies. These are all structured processes for developing essential skills that our students need to succeed, both today and in the future. Below is a brief overview of the Fluencies, which are outlined extensively in the book Literacy is Not Enough, (Crockett, Lee et. al.; 2011) and which you can experience in our professional learning opportunities.

Solution Fluency
Solution Fluency is the ability to think creatively to solve problems in real time by clearly defining the problem, designing an appropriate solution, delivering the solution and then evaluating the process and the outcome. This is about whole-brain thinking—creativity and problem solving applied on-demand.More about Solution Fluency …
Information Fluency is the ability to unconsciously and intuitively interpret information in all forms and formats in order to extract the essential knowledge, authenticate it, and perceive its meaning and significance. More about Information Fluency …
Creativity Fluency is the process by which artistic proficiency adds meaning through design, art, and storytelling. It is about using innovative design to add value to the function of a product though its form. More about Creativity Fluency …
There are two components of Media Fluency.  Firstly, the ability to look analytically at any communication to interpret the real message, and evaluate the efficacy of the chosen medium. Secondly, to create original communications by aligning the message and audience though the most appropriate and effective medium. More about Media Fluency …
Collaboration Fluency is team working proficiency that has reached the unconscious ability to work cooperatively with virtual and real partners in an online environment to solve problems and create original products. More about Collaboration Fluency …
All the 21st Century Fluencies are learned within the context of the Global Digital Citizen, using the guiding principles of leadership, ethics, altruistic service, environmental stewardship, global citizenship, digital citizenship, and personal responsibility. More about Global Digital Citizenship …


Share your thoughts

8 thoughts on “21st Century Fluencies

  • Mick

    How about financial fluency? Promoting creativity fluency really lends itself to an entrepreneurial mindset. And as we know, the job market is shifting away from Employee/Employer loyalty.

    • Lee Watanabe Crockett

      Absolutely Mick, again, this comes under “Personal Responsibility” in Global Digital Citizenship. You are so right about the job market. I believe in the very near future, people who need managing will no longer be employable. We’ve had great success with students using the Fluencies to develop this mindset.

  • jane

    These are wonderful ideas, but I can’t get to any of the “more about…” information. They all come up with “404 Error File Not Found

    The page you are looking for might have been removed,
    had its name changed, or is temporarily unavailable.” Where can I get more information?

  • A. Lavigne

    My district just underwent this big initiative which I had big expectations about. I thought it was going to incorporate initiatives such as you describe, but it did not. Not to say that some of what came out of it was not good, because some of the changes have been very good. That said, the language used with regard to student outcomes merely states that we will graduate learners with the academic background they need to pursue their career interest and serve their communities. I want to see the way we teach changed, to encompass these fluencies. All this to say that I appreciate that you have provided as much information as you have here. I plan to bring your book and website to the attention of district leadership

  • Jeffrey Earp

    Lots to like here. A few points. You define Creative Fluency as “the process by which artistic proficiency adds meaning through design, art, and storytelling”. For me creativity extends beyond the stereotyped art/design pidgeonhole to embrace other areas like creative thinking and general inventiveness, which you do mention under Solution Fluency. Perhaps for a more complete picture the relations between the categories could be made explicit.
    In a number of categories unconscious thought processes are proscribed. I don’t see anything about meta-cognition though, and IMHO this is a vital 21C competence, especially for learning. Self-awareness/self-guidance/self-reliance could be brought into the picture. Oh, and maybe systems thinking could be mentioned in conjunction with Solution Fluency as the two are closely related. There’s already a strong body of work there. Hey I really like headware and heartware BTW :-)