Tony Wagner- 7 Skills to close the global achievement gap!

“The Global Achievement Gap, Why Even Our Best Schools Don’t Teach the New Survival Skills Our Children Need — and What We Can Do About It” –Tony Wagner

In a global economy that runs on innovation and curiosity, our schools still teach to standardized tests. 

Wagner identified seven skills to meet the challenge of a global economy and begin to close the global achievement gap:

  • Critical thinking and problem solving — Teachers spend many hours on practice questions, test-taking strategies, and helping students memorize facts to prepare students to pass multiple-choice tests. In a workplace more complicated than ever, solutions to real life problems are not multiple-choice.

  • Leading By Influence — Students spend most of their school time learning in isolation. The world of work now requires employees to work in teams to accomplish company goals. Students must be prepared to present their ideas to others and advocate their position in developing a solution.

  • Agility and Adaptability — There is only one right answer in school. In the world of work, there is no perfect answer. Often, the answer is quickly invalidated by rapidly changing technology. 21st century employees need to be flexible, adaptable, and lifelong learners.

  • Initiative and Entrepreneurialism — The business model has changed. It is no longer a top-down institution with bosses in command. Employees are expected to bring skills to the workplace that allow them to figure out how to overcome obstacles. The teacher-as-boss model used in school teaches learners to focus on the assigned task but ill-prepared to think beyond the assigned task.

  • Effective Oral and Written Conversation — Most of the time in the classroom is direct instruction with the teacher talking and the students listening. Students need more focus on developing the written and verbal skills required to make clear and precise presentations.

  • Accessing and Analyzing Data — While students have limited data in the classroom: a textbook, lecture notes, and the web, the unlimited data from computers and smartphones make it essential for students to discern valid information from misinformation.

  • Curiosity and Imagination — The ability to ask good questions is the number one skill employers look for. 21st century employees must have the ability to think fast and develop imaginative solutions to problems in a rapidly changing world.


Tony Wagner