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The 21st Asian centuryBookmark

Learning area: Work Studies
Year level: Year 10
Country: Australia

Governments and global corporations tell us we need to prepare students for a different reality, a new era of many changes. In this learning sequence, students will analyse these claims, investigate Australians who have succeeded and draw conclusions about what schools could do to help students achieve similar successes.

Key inquiry questions

  • How do 21st century skills match-up with the needs of the Asian Century?
  • Which are the most important things needed to succeed in this era?
  • Did your school prepare you for success in the 21st Asian century? If so, how? If not, what should they do?


Petronas Towers in Kuala LumpurPetronas Towers, Malaysia


Image: AEF

Activity 1: Immersion

You are invited to explore some perspectives that provide background and a context for important changes that could affect your future. You will then be able to provide good answers to the first question:

  • Key inquiry question: How do 21st century skills match-up with the needs of the Asian century?


Follow this process to view and respond to the videos in collaboration with your peers:

  1. Divide into two groups. One group will focus on the topic 21st century education and the other The Asian century.
  2. In these two big groups, divide yourself into teams of 6 or 12 students (or as close to these as you can). Each student (or pair in a group of 12) will watch their video with specific questions in mind. As you watch the video, take notes on these key things:
    • Who? – Who says we should do this? Who should do it?
    • What? –What is happening?
    • Where? – Where is it taking place? Not just where in the world, but all kinds of places
    • When? – When did it start? When will it start? When did it become important or people begin talking about it?
    • Why? – Why are these things important? What are the reasons why the are important?)
    • How? – How did people decide these things are important? How did the changes come about?
  3. You can watch the video in class, at home or outside class time. Each video is less than 4 minutes long so it might be a good idea to watch it more than once. If you and/or your teacher choose, you can complete this activity collaboratively using a shared Google Doc or Primary Pad. The document could be set up with headings for each video followed by a list of Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How so students know where to type their notes.
  4. After each group has finished watching their video and writing thorough notes, each team should meet together and share your answers to the 5Ws and H. Make sure everyone understands each answer and that your whole team’s response is complete. Complete responses will be very important.
  5. Pair up with a student who watched the other video. Describe to each other what you’ve have seen and learned through a detailed Think • Pair • Share exercise that covers all the 5Ws and H for both 21st century skills and the Asian Century.
  6. You can choose to work with your partner or alone to fill in the 21st Asian century Venn diagram. The thought you put into this will help you with the next step.
  7. Individually, each student (you!) should develop a clear response that explains your answer to the first key question:How do 21st century skills match-up with the needs of the Asian century?
  8. Write 1 to 3 paragraphs comparing and contrasting how you think 21st century skills support or work against the needs of the Asian century.

Activity 2: Analysis

Now it’s time to build on your initial thinking about how 21st century skills apply to the Asian century. It can be easy to agree on the big ideas but to really understand something and to come to an agreement we also need to focus in on the details.

Many people and organisations have suggested frameworks for what people need to be successful in the 21st century where Asian nations are on the rise. In this next short activity, your task is to create a combined framework that you think highlights what is important. Use the links below to add to your knowledge and then address the second driving question in greater detail.

  • Key inquiry question: Which are the most important things needed to succeed in this era?


  1. To begin this activity, review the following resources: 

    21st century skills references


  2. Working as a team of 3–6 students, use brainstorming or note-taking apps (like Padlet or Evernote) to help you analyse the six links in the two categories of recommendations. Come up with a combined list that represents the most important knowledge, skills and capabilities that your team thinks are essential for people to succeed in this 21st century era when Asian nations are on the rise. Definitions:
    • Knowledge – knowing facts, truths, or principles, as from study or investigation
    • Skills – the ability, coming from practice, to do something well
    • Capabilities – knowledge, skills and attributes that can be used to accomplish things
  3. Begin by reviewing the 21st century skills lists. Decide which you think are the most important criteriaand that should be on the list. Your decision should be based on what you saw in the first videos and what you learned from the links above.

    • List your chosen key skills and their description. You might choose, 3, 4 or up to 7. Justify why you think the ones you chose are critical.
    • Read or skim through the links for the Asia-capabilities. Look for things that you think are important for success in this era and that are not yet on your list of 21st century skills. Add these Asia-capable aspects to your full list.
    • Using a graphic design software (like Google docs/slides, Canva, Pixlr or Tackk), make a poster presenting your 21st Asian century skills list of the most important things needed to succeed in this era.

Activity 3: The challenge

Now that you have a thoughtful list of the core skills need for success in the 21st Asian century, let’s test your list against people who are already successful.

The link below features people who have already achieved international success as Asian Australians. Obviously these people have an advantage in that they are of Asian heritage, but use them now as test cases to see how they embody your list of 21st Asian century skills.

  • Key inquiry question: Which are the most important things needed to succeed in this era?
  1. Divide into teams of five or ten students. You will either research one or two of the people depending on the size of your team.
  2. After choosing which famous Asian Australian each student will be responsible for, explore the link. As you research, take note of three things:
    • What has helped the person be successful?
    • How does the person measure up in terms of your list of 21st Asian Century skills?
    • What things contributed to the person’s success and are not on your list, but should be?
  3. As your team explores the people with the above points in mind, pool your work together using collaborative software such as Google slides
  4. Make note of other skills you might want to include on your list based upon the people you’re investigating.
  5. As a team review your original list of 21st Asian Century skills you created in the last activity and what new things you’ve discovered that helped people achieve success. Add these new things to the list if you think they could help everyone.Discuss and decide, as a team, what should be on your final draft of skills. Every member of the team should be able to say why each skill was chosen and why it is important. Practice this conversation if you have to.
  6. Finally, return to the graphic design software to create a final, publishable and shareable version of your team’s 21st Asian Century skills list. Use the Rubric for this activity to help you achieve your targeted result - Rubric: 21st Asian Century Skills (PDF)

Activity 4: Conclusions

You’ve learned a lot! First you analysed how 21st century skills match-up with the needs of the Asian century. Then you decided which were the most important things needed to succeed in this era. Now you’re ready to draw conclusions about how your school prepared you for this challenging era and how it could do this better for the students who follow you. Be as thoughtful and creative as you can to make a persuasive case for change to teachers and school leaders.

  • Key inquiry question: Did your school prepare you for success in the 21st Asian century? If so, how? If not, what should they do? 

The sections below will give you some examples as inspiration of the way things could be.

21st century work: 

  1. Read through the links below and see how the information compares with your list of 21st Asian century skills:
  2. Use the ideas in the links to reflect on how your school could better prepare you for this kind of work world:
Asia literate schools:
  1. Skim through information and list of schools. Read through some of the links, looking for information and examples of how your schooling experience could develop your Asian capabilities.
  2. Use the ideas in the link to reflect on how your school could better prepare you.
Proposing Improvements:

Every human organisation can be improved. In fact, continuous improvement is one of the hallmarks of the 21st Century. In this spirit of making positive improvements, you and a small team will develop a proposal in response to the final key question:

  • Final key question: Did your school prepare you for success in the 21st Asian century? If so, how? If not, what should they do?

Your response will be a detailed proposal argument outline that includes:

  • Description of problem
  • Proposed solution
  • Justification for solution

Here is a link to help you understand what a proposal can include: What Is a Proposal Argument Essay? – from Synonym

You can use any software you think will be most helpful to develop your draft proposal. 

Review the Rubric: 21st Asian Century for clear expectations on the quality of your response.



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