Education in the 21st century

  - February 20th, 2008 by Shalini Nambiar | Posted in General   1 Comment »
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As we examine different national solutions to familiar issues in school and post-school education, including teaching methods, curricula and resourcing; the main focus remains on the ‘external’ challenges, which all educational systems must confront, above all globalization, the communications revolution and the changing nature of work. These challenges require education at successive stages in life and not just for the young; with the increasing rapidity of economic and social change ‘lifelong learning’ has become an almost universal slogan.

In an era of expanding choice and risk how can students be best equipped to lead the good life and the life of a citizen as well as that of a worker? What we teach is sometimes dictated to us. How we teach though, should never be dictated to us. Many have heard the term in relation to teaching students “Engage me or enrage me.” What can we do that will engage students and what can we make sure we do not do in order to avoid enraging them. Regarding the use of different technologies in the school,
1) The tools are not the things that have the power to change education, it is the teachers that have the passion and ability to use the tools effectively that will make the difference.
2) What is the tool we will be using in the future? Furthermore, should we be concerned with what the next gadget will be or should we simply utilize what we have today effectively?

I am still getting my head around the concept of students becoming more than just consumers of information but also becoming producers of information. As soon as they sense that they have the ability to have ownership of the information they embrace the change immediately. Students have more ideas on the ways the information can be produced than adults do.

Students want to be producers of information.
Give them an inch and they will want to take a mile!! (What more can I say?) Students enjoy the challenges involved in producing information.
They attack the new challenges that come in this area head on.
Students enjoy becoming producers of information.
They can see the potential and the way that they can begin to have a sense of ownership over their learning. “I am in control of what and how I am learning”
I love the quote “In order to be the best you need to be different.”. Educators need to have an understanding of this idea. To be the best educators we need to be different. We need to present information and content in new and innovative ways. It is not that our students want us to do it this way; it is that they expect us to do it this way.

Often educators can get caught up in the educational jargon that floats out in the philosophical realms of deep and meaningful educational thought. As we begin to present new and innovative ways to educate and develop students I believe we need to make sure that we avoid the jargon. The golden rule I use to use when explaining concepts to students was called the KISS rule (Keep it simple stupid!!), I read this on the net and really liked the concept..
I believe that 21st century learning programs should be
1) Entertaining
2) Engaging
3) Educational

The need for our schools is to have teachers that are understanding of the fact that students need to learn to learn not learn to be taught. I feel it is an interesting insight into why teachers are leaving the classroom disheartened or are simply allowing their passion for innovative classroom teaching to diminish.
I have struggled with this over the past few months. I believe that it has come down to some very simple facts.
1) There is no recognition for what one does until the end of the year when a parent says thank you for a great year
2) School’s are not handling the how and what of teaching students…. Those who make decisions are not teachers; they are administrators who may have been teachers many years ago.
3) Joy of teaching is lost when teachers are expected to conform to regimented systems
When I look over the compliments I received from parents of children I taught,  I cannot help but notice that most parents are grateful for the way I encouraged their student to think and find joy in learning. Many parents have shared with me that, their desire for their children is not straight ‘A’ results in their exams, rather a young man or women that can think for themselves and have a passion and value of learning, for it is these skills that many parents can see are vital for the society their children are growing up into I must say that we need to understand that it is mostly the people who are adaptive that will succeed in this world and we therefore as educators need programs that will facilitate these needs.

Our present academic structures, from nur-graduate, modeled on the basis of the needs of an industrial society, are no longer functional nor adaptable to the needs of the 21st century. Merely seeking to reform them will not do. Radical surgery is needed, not just band-aid efforts.

Shalini Nambiar
Excelsior American School

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February 20 2008 11:33 pm | General

One Response to “Education in the 21st century”

  1. Anamika Vidya, Gurgaon Says:

    Hey this article speaks volumes about the way education shd be changed… a new person in this profession and yes we do need people who can think out of the box…..concentrate more on creative skills of the child which are neglected half the time …would like to meet u maam…..

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