Has our education moved on to the 21st Century or is it still stuck in the 20th Century?

Before we answer that question (yes, I know you already have the answer already but do bear with me, will you please? Thank you!), let’s have a quick look at what the 21st Century learning entails. Here is a good list of them with a video each to further illustrate or animate each point given. Do go through each and every one of them before you continue with this article: https://www.realinfluencers.es/en/2019/05/09/8-21st-century-methodologies/

Thank you for spending time reading and viewing that! You have done a pre-reading and previewing of the given materials – the flipped classroom – and that is one of the 8 methodologies that 21st Century teachers are expected to know and to teach. Here is the full list:

1. Flipped classroom – learning is “reversed” with pre-preparations by students to free up time for more meaningful discussions or projects.

2. Project-based learning – instead of memoization, pbl opens up opportunities for critical thinking, communication and collaboration.

3. Co-operative learning – switching from self-centered learning to others-centered learning resulting in greater dynamism, co-ordination and co-operation.

4. Gamification – it makes sense to learn from game-designers who have succeeded where schools have failed, in motivating players to keep playing and upping their skills to reach their targets. Because it is FUN.

5. Problem-based learning – getting students to think about real-life problems confronting the world and coming up with real solutions to them. The world needs more Boyan Slats to solve real world problems with problem-based learning!

6. Design-Thinking – A look at more specific problems to solve for specific clients offering innovative solutions for think about.

7. Thinking-based Learning – thinking that is done to convert information into knowledge. Memorisation of facts s not the primary method of learning.

8. Competency-based Learning – gives students a choice and freedom to master a skill and to present it in various ways that they choose.

So looking at these, we can come to a calculated conclusion that we have hardly made the crossover from the ancient method of teaching, to the present 21st Century world. And what does it take for us to get there? With the current pandemic exerting massive disruptions to schooling around the world, we have to relook at how we can REVAMP and REDESIGN schooling that meets the needs for new knowledge workers, innovative problem-solvers and creative and compassionate leaders of tomorrow. What are some of the problems we are currently facing?

1. Over-crowded schools and classrooms – There are just too many students and the numbers will continue to grow in urban schools. Do we keep building bigger buildings to accommodate the growing number of students? Or do we look deeper into schooling at home, distance-learning, and online classrooms?

2. School as a big day-care center- Countries affected by the pandemic have had to reopen schools for the sole purpose of enabling parents to go back to work. But if working from home becomes a norm everywhere in the world, then having children learn at home becomes a norm too. And schools can become a center for community, collaboration and socialisation instead.

3. Schools as testing centers – If the purpose of schooling changes from a place to acquire uniformed knowledge and to obtain a uniformed assessment of the acquisition of knowledge via standardised testing, to a higher purpose of moulding educated citizens with good character and compassionate leadership qualities, this whole testing method can be considered obsolete and redundant in the 21st Century scenario. The only tests to be carried out will be the products and problem-solving solutions that the students have come up with collaboratively.

4. Schools as competitive beds to fill a capitalistic market – When we stop using schools as a factory to produce products to feed the capitalistic market, and instead truly investing in human capital (or potentials) to contribute positively to the general goodness and happiness of the world, everything changes – from what we teach and how we teach and from where we teach. We got to start from the WHY we teach and the what, how and when will follow.

5. Higher education as an expensive and exclusive learning institution – this has to go because it is not sustainable and reachable for everyone. Education has to inclusive and for that to happen, we have to break down its walls of privilege and exclusivity. It should not be a for- profit enterprise. It has got to be a for-the-people life-long open learning community.

6. Schools as political and religious indoctrination centres- This has to stop. Period.

Some may say that this is wishful thinking but I beg to differ. I believe that when people are confronted by a common global problem, and the only way to solve it is to change everything we knew about how we school our kids, the time for change will come sooner than we think. The window for change has just opened up for the world right now. The question is, are we going back to the old normal or are we going to create a new normal for our children?

HAPPY TEACHERS’ DAY to all educators!

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