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An educational proposal to introduce the 21st Century Skills in schools to prepare students for the needs of real life


location_on Spain
It is an integral proposal of 10 different programmes to improve the acquisition of skills and motivate learning: - Acquisition of 21st century skills for personal and professional development - Maker spirit - Development of Critical Thinking - STEAM as a key - Women's empowerment - Based on challenges - Technology as a tool for the learning - Evaluation based on evidences - Educator's Community
Carlos Magro - Independent consultant in transformation projects in Education and Communication
"The challenge is to provide transversal education that enables citizens to respond flexibly and proactively to change in a lifelong learning society"

Carlos Magro - Independent consultant in transformation projects in Education and Communication


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Innovation Overview

6 - 16
Age Group
Updated on October 30th, 2020
about the innovation

Education for the life

SET VEINTIUNO is an educational solution to introduce in a systematized way the skills for the XXI century (soft-skills) in the school and prepare the students to become the citizens of a changing and complex world.

One of the great challenges of education has been the need to incorporate context into the school. We have always demanded from the school more connection with real life and with the interests of students and we have criticized it for being too abstract and superficial in relation to out-of-school education, much more vital, profound and real. There are many who have defended the idea of a school in which we learn to live in the same way as we live.

This pretension of an education for life is not a novelty of our times.

Throughout the 20th Century, numerous groups of teachers emerged for whom the motto "let life enter the school" became their pedagogical guiding principle.1 They advocated an education that would allow us to respond and intervene in the most appropriate way possible with respect to the problems and questions that life in all its spheres holds for us.2

The dissociation between life and school seems to be, more than ever, an unavoidable fact. In this context, we are once again faced with numerous doubts: are we training our pupils in the knowledge necessary to live (or perhaps survive) in this century? Will the traditional values and skills be used to face the problems of the 21st Century?

We are now faced with the difficulty of determining what learning should be provided by the school in order to prepare us for life (personal, social, work), especially when the future is increasingly uncertain and it is difficult for us to imagine what the ways of life and work will be like in a few decades' time. We do not know what the problems and situations that any of us will have to face in the near future and throughout our lives will be. 

The challenge of offering a growing set of competencies and skills is being partially met by the creation of a new lifelong learning infrastructure. However, innovations in lifelong learning continue to exist outside our education system. The dominant educational paradigm still focuses on what students know, rather than how they use what they know.

In any case, it does seem clear that aspects such as flexibility, innovation and interdisciplinarity should take precedence over rigidity, repetition and discipline.3

If we agree on the importance of the integral formation of people and accept that people construct their personality through different educational experiences, then we must assume that another of the great challenges for education systems today is to be able to integrate formal, non-formal, and informal learning in a natural way, overcoming the traditional division that has always existed among them.

It seems key, therefore, to work for a transversal education that allows citizens to respond in a flexible and proactive way to the change of a society of permanent learning.

Cristóbal Cobo points out five trends that call for a profound change in formal education systems. Faced with the growing gap that seems to exist between formal education and the challenges of society, it seems necessary, according to Cobo, to introduce mechanisms of flexibility and connection between formal and informal learning. This is something that some have called " Seamless Learning" and that ultimately tries to overcome the old division between what happened in the classroom and what happened outside the classroom. 

Traditionally, we thought that theoretical knowledge was the basis and the key to later know how to do and know how to be, but we had delegated to informal and non-formal education the learning experiences that prepared for the nonprofessional spheres of life: the personal, the interpersonal and the social.4 Integrating these fields into formal education now necessarily implies, that we make the transition from a focus that is excessively centered on what we learn to one that is also concerned with how we learn, whose final meaning is to achieve deeper and more permanent learning, while at the same time it stands out as essential to develop different types of skills and knowledge such as critical thinking or learning to learn, in a future context in which we will need to learn throughout life and move on to a paradigm of learning that is delocalised both in time and space.

In this new learning ecology, learning is, and will increasingly be, oriented towards the acquisition and mastery of generic and transversal skills and competences that allow learning to continue in a wide range of situations and circumstances.

Why we do it?

We live in a changing, innovative, disruptive, abundant, fast, but also uncertain, fragile, fragmentary, permeable, unequal and fickle world. We live in a complex world, mediated by technology and full of data. We live in a world where everything changes and nothing remains, where the only thing that seems to remain is change. This change represents an opportunity to work for a better, more inclusive and participatory, fairer and equitable education that responds to the diversity of our societies and helps us to overcome the current disaffection with learning. In this changing society, the school must help students build the mental, emotional and social resources to enjoy challenges and cope with uncertainty and complexity. 

In short, it is a set of skills that allow us to respond and intervene in the most appropriate way with respect to problems and questions that life will pose to us in all its spheres of action, in all its scenarios.

We have grouped them into four vital scenarios that recover in a certain way the four basic lessons learned in the Delors Report, but emphasizing the contextual and situational nature of these lessons: the Personal Scenario, which gathers the skills related to self-esteem and personal adjustment; the Community Scenario, with the skills that favour coexistence and social relations; the Academic Scenario, which gathers the skills related to knowledge management and learning; and the Professional Scenario, which includes those that facilitate access to the world of work.

In reality, neither skills nor scenarios are isolated and stagnant categories. All skills are related to each other and influence each other, and all of them, of course, influence the integral development of people. Almost all, for example, have an impact on our learning capacities as demonstrated by the learning sciences.

For their part, the scenarios (personal, community, academic and professional) are also in constant interaction and interrelation. And we obviously move from one to the other, mobilizing knowledge and skills, without a line of continuity. It is difficult to think of a good professional who does not simultaneously mobilize, in addition to the skills that we have categorized under that scenario, others such as flexibility, self-esteem, communication, empathy, analytical thinking or information management that we have placed under the other scenarios. The development of some facilitates or amplifies the development of others. The development of self-knowledge, self-esteem and the management of emotions are, for example, a fundamental element in learning. Collaboration, on the other hand, which we have placed on the professional stage, is also fundamental for the academic or the community. Learning is reinforced by the development of intrapersonal skills that allow us to reflect and adjust our learning strategies accordingly. On the contrary, research has also shown how the development of cognitive skills, such as the ability to think objectively about a disagreement with another person, can increase interpersonal skills and reduce antisocial behaviour.5

Therefore, skills, worked in an interrelated way and together with the rest of curricular knowledge, must contribute to the integral development of the personality in all spheres of life (personal, social, civic and labor), the ultimate end of education and as the main part of a greater system, the ultimate end of school today.6 Their activation in "real" contexts and situations is a complex process, so it is interesting to exercise them in defined and normalized contexts such as those we can find in school.


What we do?

That is why Santillana, starting from the different frameworks that define 21st Century Skills, has made his own interpretation of which skills schools need to work to achieve active and participative citizens, with great self-confidence, autonomous, curious, adapted to change and promoters of innovations, eager to participate in the wealth to which they contribute, convinced of the need to create more individual and collective value and forged in the culture of balance between effort and reward.

1 y 2. Philippe Perrenoud. Cuando la escuela pretende preparar para la vida. ¿Desarrollar competencias o enseñar otros saberes? Graó. 2012.

3. Álvaro Marchesi y Elena Martín. Calidad de la enseñanza en tiempos de crisis. Alianza Editorial. 2014

4. Antoni Zabala y Laia Arnau. 11 ideas clave. Cómo aprender y enseñar competencias. Graó. 2011

5. Durlak, J. A., Dymnicki, A. B., Taylor, R. D. Weissberg, R. P., y Schellinger, K. B. «The Impact of Enhancing Students' Social and Emotional Learning: A Meta-analysis of Schoolbased Universal Interventions». Child Development, 82(1). 2011.


See this innovation in action

Las Habilidades del siglo XXI tras la pandemia. ¿Y ahora, qué?
Cuando llegó la pandemia a nuestras vidas no sabíamos si los niños volverían a la escuela, y cuando llegase el momento, de qué manera se haría; por tandas, por turnos... sea como fuere parece que los colegios tal y como los conocemos no van a poder seguir. Algunos apostarán por reforzar su parte digital, otros tratarán de darle una vuelta a los contenidos que consideran esenciales, en el mejor de los casos incluso pensarán en cómo afrontar el currículo de otra manera. Por otra parte, esta situación que estamos viviendo ha hecho que los propios padres estén demandando a sus hijos que se organicen solos (autonomía), que no decaigan y sigan trabajando (automotivación, resiliencia) o que se pongan en el lugar de sus hermanos y dejen de discutir (empatía). También al profesorado se le están exigiendo algunas de esas habilidades, por ejemplo a la hora de atender a las diversas situaciones de su alumnado (escucha activa), adaptar sus clases a una fórmula que antes no practicaban (adaptación al cambio, flexibilidad...). Desde nuestro punto de vista estas son cuestiones que ya estaban en la conversación en el mundo educativo y que ahora han visto evidenciada su necesaria atención y es por ello que creamos SET VEINTIUNO.Recientemente se han visto publicaciones de Forbes Bill Gates de El País acerca de las habilidades más demandas en el futuro y sería interesante echar las vista atrás y conocer si el momento actual ha trastocado las prioridades e incluso analizar los caminos hasta llegar a esos aprendizajes, que parece que se iban adquiriendo en la "escuela de la vida" y de si tiene sentido una educación formal en este tema.  Actualmente muchas de esas habilidades, están de alguna manera reflejadas en el currículo como competencias, pero depende principalmente del buen hacer de los profesores que de una manera más individual se desarrollen en el aula ya que los contenidos obligatorios “arrastran” el tiempo que se dedica a otras cosas. La pandemia global ha evidenciado la carencia de estas habilidades del siglo XXI en los estudiantes de hoy en día. Debido a este hecho, organizamos un ciclo de ponencias para reflexionar acerca de la necesidad de incorporar de manera formal, las habilidades en las escuelas. El ciclo llamado "Repensar la escuela desde las habilidades" nos dejó 10 ponencias que compartimos:¿Por qué las Habilidades 21 son imprescindibles en un mundo incierto?Aprender haciendo para el bien comúnSTEAM y creatividad para resolver problemasComunicar para construir aprendizajePensar, un aprendizaje para toda la vidaEl aprendizaje responsableNuevos lenguajes, nuevas solucionesEl pensamiento computacional para comprender y cambiar el mundoAprender y desarrollar habilidades emocionales en la escuelaEl emprendimiento social desde la escuela
Impacto de la innovacióna nivel económico y medioambiental
SET VEINTIUNO es una propuesta de innovación con impacto económico en los siguientes ámbitos: Comunidad educativa. Para los centros educativos representa una oportunidad de introducir la innovación, con las siguientes repercusiones: - Transformación del proyecto pedagógico, alineado con las demandas de la sociedad del siglo XXI. - Desarrollo formativo docente en las habilidades del siglo XXI, en pedagogías emergentes y en la creación de comunidades de aprendizaje globalizadas. - Posicionamiento del centro como referente en innovación dentro de la comunidad glocal. Todo ello influye en una mejora de la calidad educativa, lo que tiene una traducción directa en la economía del centro: en los centros privados porque eleva la demanda de matrículas por parte de las familias; en el caso de los centros públicos porque los centros reciben recursos económicos de la Administración en función de los resultados académicos de los alumnos. En la sociedad. SET VEINTIUNO mejora la futura empleailidad de los estudiantes al formarse en las habilidades del siglo XXI, muy demandas actualmente en el contexto profesional. SET VEINTIUNO es una propuesta de innovación con impacto medioambiental a través de: - Programas específicos que promueven la reflexión acerca del uso de los recursos naturales y materiales y fomenta su uso responsable. - Impulsa el espíritu emprendedor en un marco de responsabilidad, innovación socia, tecnología consciente y aprendizaje-servicio. - Los proyectos que articulan los programas están enfocados a los Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible de la UNESCO (Agenda 2030).
Además de tener una metodología propia el programa tiene unas claves sobre las que se desarrollan todos los proyectos. Estas claves representan el espíritu del programa:• Habilidades 21. Definición de las 21 Habilidades (soft-skills) orientadas al desarrollo personal y profesional de los estudiantes, pilar de la propuesta pedagógica. Habilidades que les permitirán enfrentarse a los desafíos actuales y de un futuro en permanente cambio. • Pensamiento crítico. Ayuda a los estudiantes a enfrentarse a la masiva exposición de la información y tomar decisiones. • Basado en retos. Incentiva la creatividad y al aprendizaje por descubrimiento con materiales que promueven una metodología de trabajo por proyectos. • Espíritu maker. Fomenta la generación de evidencias como parte del proceso de aprendizaje y evaluación. • Tecnología. Apuesta por un rol facilitador del aprendizaje y como herramienta para la solución de problemas. • Igualdad de Género. Establece pilares básicos en igualdad de oportunidades e incluye referentes de ambos sexos. • Objetivos de Desarrollo Sostenible. Involucra a los estudiantes en los objetivos marcados en la Agenda 2030 de Naciones Unidas a través de los proyectos propuestos. • Comunidad de aprendizaje. Comparte las buenas prácticas y conciencia de la necesidad de incorporar el aprendizaje de las Habilidades 21 en las escuelas. • STEAM. Incentiva la formación en estas disciplinas y la adopción del método científico como proceso de aprendizaje.
Santillana, a través de su programa SET VEINTIUNO, proporciona recursos y servicios para educar el talento y las Habilidades 21 que los estudiantes de hoy necesitan ahora y en el futuro. Es una experiencia para introducir la innovación pedagógica en los centros escolares, articulada a través de retos, y en los contenidos que ofrece. Una experiencia educativa para complementar, enriquecer y actualizar el currículum. Está dirigido a estudiantes de 6 a 16 años.Es una propuesta educativa para introducir de forma sistematizada las habilidades del siglo XXI (soft-skills) en la escuela y preparar a los estudiantes para las necesidades de un mundo cambiante.SET VEINTIUNO responde a una demanda de la sociedad y de la comunidad educativa para introducir el aprendizaje de las soft-skills desde la escuela. A partir de los distintos marcos internacionales, el equipo de Innovación de Santillana Global, ha elaborado su propio marco de las habilidades del siglo XXI (cuya fundamentación teórica y pedagógica puede consultarse en el siguiente enlace White Paper SET VEINTIUNOEs la única propuesta que actualmente hay en el mercado para el desarrollo de las habilidades del siglo XXI de manera sistemática, transversal y al mismo tiempo en combinación con el currículo. Se trata de un proyecto de innovación educativa con un propósito ambicioso y de impacto real en los estudiantes y en la sociedad, dado que se basa en el aprender haciendo y el aprendizaje-servicio. Además es una oportunidad para que los centros educativos introduzcan la innovación de manera flexible, porque SET VEINTIUNO actúa a través de diferentes dimensiones educativas: la metodología, la tecnología, la comunidad de aprendizaje y la evaluación. La propuesta es escalable y ya está implementada en España, Argentina, Colombia, Brasil, Chile, Guatemala y El Salvador  y en los próximos meses México.SET VEINTIUNO nace de un proyecto de investigación ( sobre innovación educativa que refñexiona sobre las nuevas necesidades de la sociedad, de los centros educativos y de los estudiantes. Una iniciaitva que aglutina a diferentes agentes educativos, a expertos de campos diversos (tecnología, economía circular, educación emocional...) e influenciadores.
SET VEINTIUNO skills for life
Know more about SET VEINTIUNO. What teachers and students think about this innovative process of learning.
Switched on Computing - Computational Thinking
Switched on Computing.It seeks the digital literacy of children from the creation of technology to the safe and responsible use of ICT, working the concepts of computing across the rest of STEAM areas. Children stop being mere users and become responsible creators of technology. The program is available in two versions: English and Spanish. See here the teacher's guide: See here a sample:
STEAM projects - Experimenting to understand the world.
STEAM projects.Works skills and competences demanded by the 21st century from experimentation and discovery. The projects work the different disciplines that make up the acronym STEAM (Sience, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Maths) and complete the learning experience of the student, making it work the management of frustration and error as part of learning. Consult the teacher's guide here: See here a sample:
Programming of Things - Learning by doing.
Programming of Things. Works the comprehension of new languages and ways of thinking used in the creation and implementation of technology. Promotes learning in technology users, understands how it works and inspires them to create it. It is based on technical and programming contents and always incorporates interdisciplinary work in other STEAM areas. See here the teacher's guide: See here a Primary sample and Secondary sample:
Entrepreneurship - Entrepreneurship is an attitude
Entrepreneurship: Entrepreneurial competence works as a vital attitude, developing in students their capacity for leadership, creativity and innovation, and fostering an open and fearless attitude when learning to manage resources and be effective in the organization of life and work. Consult the teacher's guide here: See here a Primary sample and Secondary sample:
The Value of Things - Seeds to change the world
The Value of Things: It works to develop the ability of students to manage efficiently and balanced tangible and intangible resources, financial and natural assets, planning, time management and savings. It fosters the development of awareness of the rational use of resources and prepares them for good use in adult life. Consult the teacher's guide here: See here a Primary sample and Secondary sample
Communicate - Communication skills for the life
Communicate: Prepares young people to access the world of networks safely, critically and efficiently. This digital world demands a renewed ability to understand and express, while at the same time modifying the usual patterns of relationships as we know them. Communicating breaks the gap between the online and offline world, and promotes a conversation with boys and girls that contemplates all areas of socialization, without artificial divisions that impede their full development. Consult here the teacher's guide: See here a sample:
Learn at Minecraft - Every world a learning
Learn at Minecraft: It works on different competencies and skills, as well as curricular and extracurricular content, through the video game Minecraft: Education Edition and provides challenging emotional components and personal interaction that develop autonomy, personal relationships and communication among students. See the teacher's guide here: See here a sample:
Learn with Chess - Learning through play
Learn with Chess: It is a program that uses chess as a recreational vehicle through which to develop emotional and knowledge skills (educational chess). The main objectives of this program are to help improve academic performance, work the ability to solve problems through a methodology based on play, reflect and learn to manage the emotions that arise in the challenges of every day, train strategies that promote the ability to make decisions, naturally develop cognitive and social skills, enhance critical thinking and stimulate creativity and cultural interest. Consult the teacher's guide here: See here a sample:
Learning to Be - Set your own goals
Learning to Be: It develops social-emotional competence, turning Primary Education students and teachers into the protagonists of a complete work on the emotional experience, understood as a set of emotions, feelings, moods, abilities, attitudes and values. Consult the teacher's guide here. See here a demo. 
Learning to Think - Brain is your better tool
Get to know  SET VEINTIUNO Program sEach one of the programs is conceptualized to develop the Skills of the 21st century, but not all the skills are developed in equal measure but in function of the area of knowledge in which it is encompassed they are fomented more than others. What they have in common is the possibility of integrating them transversally into the school, since they are not exclusive to one subject. Learning to Think: It works on the features and strategies of thinking that can be systematically trained so that students become effective thinkers and apprentices and approach knowledge with curiosity, motivation and rigor by developing critical thinking. Consult the teacher's guide here. See here a Primary sample and Secondary sample. 
This innovation project was born from the initiative "SantillanaLab", a meeting place for experts, led by Santillana and brought together with the aim of understanding the needs of the educational community. Understand how learning takes place and what role should occupy the work by competencies, know the educational innovation initiatives that are being carried out around the world and recognize the role of non-educational actors who become influencers in schools. After the conclusions drawn in the sessions and research carried out throughout 2015 and 2016, Santillana decides to bet on the creation of a methodological proposal and content to facilitate the work of schools and teachers for the development of the Skills of the XXI century in their students. The pedagogical "digestion" of all this learning is contained in the White Paper of SET VEINTIUNO that can be read here.
What to do to implement SET VEINTIUNO?
4. What to do to implement SET VEINTIUNO? Any educational center or organization that wants to use SET VEINTIUNO should only contact the R&D department of Santillana Global through the email or through the contact form on the website of SET VEINTIUNO
Is teacher training necessary to carry out the SET VEINTIUNO programs?
3. Is teacher training necessary to carry out the SET VEINTIUNO programs? Each of the programmes has a teacher's guide that explains in detail each of the most relevant aspects such as the methodology to be used and the objectives to be achieved. In addition, each student's notebook corresponds to the teacher's cards that allow him/her to prepare the sessions in advance and that contain possible solutions to the projects. Finally, in the "Accompaniment" section of the website you can find resources with explanatory documents, videos and frequently asked questions that can be used by the teacher at any time you have a question, as well as a "Consultations" mailbox through which you can send your questions directly to Santillana's team. Only in the case of "Programming Things", we recommend that the profile you are going to use with your students is familiar with the programming or is willing to acquire basic knowledge through the resources provided on the web.
What does a school need to use the SET VEINTIUNO educational proposal?
2. What does a school need to use the SET VEINTIUNO educational proposal? SET VEINTIUNO is a flexible proposal that allows to begin to apply the change in the educational centers in a complete or slow and staggered way introducing either all or only some of its programs; in all the ages or only in certain levels what makes that it is the educational center who can decide its degree of commitment with the change. Starting from the multiple options that a centre can adopt, in addition to the acquisition of materials that are used on a daily basis in the classroom, it is advisable to train all the "agents" involved in the change on the concept of the innovation proposal so that its real implementation is effective and the fundamental aspects, such as evaluation, are not left to free interpretation.
Who can implement SET VEINTIUNO?
1. Who can implement SET VEINTIUNO? - Any educational center that has students between the ages of 6 and 16 and that is interested in incorporating an educational innovation program that works in a formal and guided way the acquisition of the Skills of the 21st century in its students. - Any educational center that wants to provide its students with tools that allow them to better adapt to the constantly changing environment in which we live. - Any school that wants to differentiate itself and provide other "knowledge" to its students in addition to those currently acquired at school. - Any educational centre that supports there are other ways of learning and teaching besides the traditional ones.
SET VEINTIUNO is currently implemented in multiple schools in Spain, Colombia, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Uruguay, Guatemala and Brazil since 2017. In order to be able to measure the real impact of the SET VEINTIUNO programs, in 2017 some "experience incubators" were carried out in schools and colleges of different typologies, in which all the necessary materials and training were provided to the professors so that they could implement the educational innovation project in the institution. Main conclusions that could be extracted are qualitative and are focused on a clear improvement in the perception of learning and in the self-esteem of the students by being able to deal with the challenges that SET VEINTIUNO proposes in each project and solve them successfully being aware that there is more than one way to do it. In the following links you can read the complete document of conclusions and a video that summarizes the experiences in schools: ReportVideo
What is SET VEINTIUNO based on?
It is an integral proposal made up of 10 different programmes that share transversal characteristics in order to improve the acquisition of skills and motivate learning: - Acquisition of 21st Century Skills for personal and professional development that enable students to face the future - Maker spirit that enhances the generation of evidence as part of the learning process and stimulates creative thinking - Development of Critical Thinking to help young people deal with massive information exposure and make decisions based on analysis and reflection - STEAM as the key for training students in learning based on the Scientific Method in which "failure" is part of the learning process - Women's empowerment by promoting the interest of girls and adolescents in Science and Technology and making them aware of equal opportunities. - Based on challenges with resources that stimulate creativity and thinking, according to a project-based methodology - Relationship with the game trying to introduce playful elements that make learning more attractive - Giving technology a facilitating role in learning and as a tool to provide solutions. - Evaluation proposal based on evidences created as an expression of the students' progress and a continuous reflection of emotional self-evaluation - Creating a Community of Educators to share good practices and raise awareness of the need to formally incorporate skills learning in schools It also has an "Accompaniment" to educators that incorporates proposals to organize their sessions and solve possible doubts when implementing any program.


Achievements & Awards

June 2019
Finalist Digital Skills Awards Spain

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