Curriculum Approaches

21st Century Attributes for the Art Room


For years we’ve been hearing about the importance of teaching 21st-century skills. These are the types of “soft skills” that go beyond academic proficiency. They were first identified as the 4 Cs: Communication, Collaboration, Critical Thinking, and Creativity. However, they’ve recently expanded to include other life skills like empathy, adaptability, and taking initiative.

We know the art room is one of the most effective places for students to practice these skills. We’ve seen the development of effective ideas like Teaching for Artistic Behavior, including more student choice, and using the Studio Habits of Mind. Without these skills, students will find it difficult to participate in their ever-changing global communities.

Just look at all of the attributes art education develops in students! Be sure and download a copy to share with your students and school community!


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The demand for schools to prepare students for the future has never been greater or more daunting.

Because of this, there have been movements in general education to provide learning opportunities similar to what is found in the art room. Educators from all fields see the value in initiatives like Project-Based Learning (PBL) and Design Thinking. Project-Based Learning and Design Thinking can easily fit into what we do. These disciplines can strengthen the 21st-century skills we already work hard to develop.

We’ve created our Project Based Art Room course to help you understand how project-based work can benefit your art program. You’ll research some of the most popular collaborative models of education including design thinking, makerspaces, STEAM, and PBL and walk away with a plan to actively re-design and customize your own collaborative curriculum. Gain the confidence to move forward with these learning models, and join our next course offering here!

What life skills do you find are the most important to instill in your students?

How do you organize your curriculum for students to best practice 21st-century attributes?

Magazine articles and podcasts are opinions of professional education contributors and do not necessarily represent the position of the Art of Education University (AOEU) or its academic offerings. Contributors use terms in the way they are most often talked about in the scope of their educational experiences.


Tracy Hare

Tracy Hare, a middle school art educator, is a former AOEU Writer. She strives to deepen students’ 21st-century skills by encouraging them to practice critical thinking and creative problem-solving skills.

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