References to the need for 21st century skills are now commonplace among educators around the world. It is widely accepted that there is an ongoing need for teaching to extend its focus beyond developing content knowledge and including a more explicit emphasis on skills that students will use in later life – for employment, for higher education and more generally as they navigate through our fast-changing world. In particular, employers regularly highlight their requirement for employees who can think critically to address complex problems.
Similarly, when we consider the problems that we are increasingly facing at the community, society and global levels – issues around the environment, economy and social structures – we need young people to be able to innovate and find solutions which may not be immediately obvious, and which are not based on a pre-established formula or rule book that they can memorise while at school. They need to be able to cope with solving ‘non-routine’ problems. As the futurist and businessman Alvin Toffler famously said, ‘the illiterate of the 21st Century are not those that cannot read or write, but