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Durham University

School of Education

Staff Profile

Publication details for Prof Steve Higgins

Higgins, S.E. (2014). Critical thinking for 21st-century education: A cyber-tooth curriculum? Prospects 14(4): 559-574.

Author(s) from Durham


It is often assumed that the advent of digital technologies requires fundamental change to the curriculum and to the teaching and learning approaches used in schools around the world to educate this generation of “digital natives” or the “net generation”. This article analyses the concepts of 21st-century skills and critical thinking, to understand how these aspects of learning might contribute to a 21st-century education. The author argues that, although both critical thinking and 21st-century skills are indeed necessary in a curriculum for a 21st-century education, they are not sufficient, even in combination. The role of knowledge and an understanding of differing cultural perspectives and values indicate that education should also fit local contexts in a global world and meet the specific needs of students in diverse cultures. It should also fit the particular technical and historical demands of the 21st century in relation to digital skills.