The core concept of 21st-century skills is far from new. Although it incorporates some modern capabilities like information technology, LMSs, and online learning systems, it is many ways a return from specialization back to well-roundedness–a virtue idealized in the 15th and 16th centuries.
A Renaissance man, or polymath, was the Renaissance ideal. It referred to a person whose knowledge was not restricted to one subject area, and who was educated in a wide variety of learning systems. A Renaissance man was knowledgeable enough to excel in a wide variety of subjects or fields.
Much like 21st-century skills projects, Renaissance humanism considered man empowered and with infinite potential for development, which prompted the notion that people should develop their skills as fully as possible in all areas of knowledge. A similar term is Homo Universalis–“Universal Human,” which stresses universal learning systems to develop one’s potential.
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